Friday, February 10, 2017

Bills Introduced to Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act

Companion bills were introduced in the House and Senate to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. In the House, H.R. 743 - Davis-Bacon Repeal Act was introduced by Rep Steve King (R-IA) and in the Senate, S. 244 - Davis Bacon Repeal Act was introduced by Sen Mike Lee (R-UT). Both bills, introduced on January 30, 2017 read the same.

The Davis-Bacon Act (a.k.a. prevailing wages) has been controversial ever since it became law. Critics argue that it raises wage levels, artificially boosting the cost of Federal construction project, and discriminates against nonunion workers. There is also considerable dispute concerning the methods used to determine the prevailing wage. Study after study have concluded that the Act's primary effect is to raise the wage and employment levels of union workers to the detriment of nonunion (and often minority) workers.

One study we read concluded that Davis-Bacon increased costs of Federal construction projects by 20 percent. That may be a very conservative estimate. Not long ago, we were talking to a plumber working on new housing construction (private sector) and he was quitting to take a temporary job on a construction project at a nearby military installation where he would earn more than double his current non-union wage.

We don't know how far these bill will go in Congress. Under previous administrations, they had no chance. However under the current Administration, some writers think it may have a shot at passing.

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