Monday, October 21, 2019

Legislation Proposed to Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA)

Senator Mike Lee (Utah) has introduced (or should we say 're-introduced') legislation last week to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act. Six other Senator's signed on as co-sponsors of the proposed repeal.

The Davis-Bacon Act is a wage subsidy law requiring all federally-funded projects (greater than $2,000) to pay workers the "prevailing wage" rate on non-federal projects in the same locality. The problem with the prevailing wage law is, as everyone knows and understands or at least suspects, that the prevailing wage schedules coming out of the Labor Department, are significantly higher than the real prevailing wages. To illustrate with an anecdote, a plumber working for $33 per hour on new residential construction, was temporarily deployed by his employer to a project at a local military installation where he earned more than $40 per hour. After the military job was completed, he returned to his previous job site and began working again at $33 per hour.

According to Senator Lee's press release announcing the legislation,
The Davis Bacon Act exemplifies how big government hurts the people it purports to help, gives unfair advantages to favored special interests (e.g. unions), and squeezes the middle class. The Davis-Bacon Repeal Act would remove these government-imposed obstacles to economic opportunity facing low-skilled workers, and return wasted taxpayer dollars back into the hands of the American people.
There is no doubt that Federally funded construction projects would cost less without the prevailing wage law. However, we don't expect the proposal to get very far in Congress. Also, the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) would lose half its case load.

Read more about the proposal here.

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