The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, May 18, 2018

Bipartisan U.S. House again says 'no' to dumping wage law

By The Building Tradesman



WASHINGTON (PAI)—In what is a perennial battle, a bipartisan coalition of representatives once again defeated right-wing Republican Congressman Steve King’s scheme to cut construction workers’ pay by dumping the Davis-Bacon Act.
 
The 172-243 U.S. House vote came during debate April 26 on legislation renewing the Federal Aviation Administration for another several years

King tried to take out the construction workers’ pay by his perennial amendment, saying the Davis-Bacon Act would not apply to airport construction. Since the federal government, through ticket taxes, funds most airport construction, that would have cut the wages of any workers toiling on such projects.
      
Davis-Bacon was introduced and approved by Republican lawmakers in the depths of the Great Depression, in 1931. It mandates contractors on all federally funded construction pay locally prevailing wages, set by Labor Department surveys, to their workers. Every year there is a proposal to repeal the federal prevailing wage law, but there has always been enough bipartisan support to sustain it. (That's hardly the case among Lansing lawmakers).  
   
King keeps screaming that really means union wages, but DOL points out it often doesn’t, since its wage surveys include both union and non-union contractors. This time, King trotted out an anti-worker letter from right-wing GOP heavyweight Grover Norquist to bolster his case. It didn’t work. 

“This is about this desire to engage in this race to the bottom to pay working families less money,” retorted Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich. “Coming from a community like Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, where we have seen continuing and significant loss of income by working people, we have a chance to say to the American people that when it is your tax dollars being spent, we are not going to use them to undermine the ability of a family to have a decent wage.”
   
 Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades, told his legislative conference, which occurred before King’s latest attack on Davis-Bacon, that “we engage lawmakers” of both parties “to ensure our tax dollars are not used to undermine standards or promote a race to the bottom.”

“The battles aren’t going away – if long-term victories, economic opportunities and retirement security is what we seek,” he added. 
“Bipartisan political engagement is all the more important, particularly when misguided politicians in some states look to undermine long fought health, safety and wage standards for the construction industry.”
            “Together, we can effectively bring an end to the ‘race to the bottom’ that has devastated countless American workers and their families. Together, we can protect prevailing wage standards, promote fair contracting, and expand the use of project labor agreements.”