On June 4, the U.S. House of Representatives swiftly defeated an amendment to appropriations bill H.R. 2216 that would have halted enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act and disregarded the protection of workers on construction projects.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), would have required that “none of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement, administer, or enforce [Davis-Bacon] prevailing wage requirements.” The amendment failed on a 192-231 vote; no Democrat supported the amendment, while 36 Republicans crossed party lines to defeat it.

Prevailing Wage Laws require construction contractors who work on public projects to pay construction workers at least the prevailing wages (actual hourly wages, benefits and overtime) in the area in which they are working. King referred to Davis-Bacon prevailing wages as “a mandated union scale,” and argued that the requirement to pay prevailing wages effectively locks out nonunion contractors because of increased wage costs. In truth, the Davis-Bacon Act contains no requirement that union craftsmen are used; rather, it simply assures that all skilled workers are paid a fair wage on construction projects under government contracts.

King failed to mention that research has consistently shown that Prevailing Wage Laws do not result in significant cost variations on construction projects. In fact, as Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) argued against the amendment, repealing Davis-Bacon requirements “has consistently been shown to increase costs because of the poor construction resulting in repairs, revisions, and project delays and consequently substantial cost overruns all as a result of the increase in employing unskilled, unqualified workers on projects.”

ACT Ohio applauds the House for recognizing the importance of the Davis-Bacon Act to allow for the sustainability of a protected construction workforce and agrees with the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department’s statement that “such amendments in the future are nothing more than a waste of time.”


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