The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, June 23, 2017

Trump OKs wage guarantees into infrastructure plan

By The Building Tradesman



WASHINGTON D.C. - President Trump has been promoting a rough outline for infrastructure work in the U.S. that could carry a price tag of up to $1 trillion. That's very good news for the building trades. 

Even better: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on June 8 affirmed that the work would be done under federal Davis-Bacon rules, which require the payment of prevailing wages on those public works projects. That wage guarantee is a big hurdle to jump for bringing congressional Democrats on board with voting for any infrastructure repair package.

"We are here to talk about rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. Isn't it about time?" Trump said in a speech in Ohio on June 7. "We are spending money all over the world, except here. We don't spend our money here, we spend it all over -- and we'll do it using American labor, American energy, American iron, aluminum and steel."

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, speaking during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on June 8, indicated that the administration’s rebuilding package would contain wage requirements mandated by the Davis-Bacon Act, according to The Hill. “The administration’s proposal is to include Davis-Bacon,” Chao told lawmakers. “For the infrastructure proposal, I’d like to see it passed, and I understand that without the (prevailing wage) provision, the minority would not sign on.”

Indeed.

"If (the president's infrastructure bill) targets unions or leaves Americans worse off, I will fight it every step of the way," Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said during a builders conference in April, according to The Hill. "And if it doesn't include prevailing wages and protect Davis-Bacon, it's a nonstarter -- at least for me."

Trump campaigned on rebuilding the nation's roads, bridges, water/sewer plants, railways and airports with spending that would run at least hundreds of billions of dollars and up to $1 trillion. For every one billion dollars spent on construction, 24,000 full-time jobs are created for one year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

On the week of June 5, to highlight the proposal, Trump called an "infrastructure week" to point out the work that needs to be done. However, much of the attention that week was given over to the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey.