North America’s Building Trades Unions Succeeds in Beating Back 3 Anti-Prevailing Wage Amendments

09/11/2017 – 3:47pm

As the U.S. House of Representatives was voting last week on appropriations bills to keep the federal government running, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) attempted to amend every piece of legislation to undo Davis-Bacon protections that ensure fair prevailing wages are paid on publicly funded construction projects.

Fortunately, King’s efforts to cut wages have been unsuccessful. Every Democratic member and 54 Republicans voted “no,” on all three of King’s amendments. Each vote on King’s three amendments failed 173-240, with 54 Republicans siding with all Democrats in voting “no.” Every member of the Massachusetts delegation voted “no” in support of fair wages for America’s building trades workers.

Prevailing wage standards are a minimum wage for skilled construction work on publicly funded projects – including bridges, roads, water projects, tunnels, pipelines, municipal buildings, courthouses, schools and libraries. It is a market determination based on government surveys of the average pay rate (wages, fringe benefits, training contributions) for each construction craft in a geographic area. These standards are intended not only promote a level playing field for local businesses, but to support the training programs needed to prepare local workers for careers in the skilled crafts.

Research consistently shows that prevailing wage standards lead to better economic and industry outcomes – including more local jobs, less poverty, and safer, more efficient and productive worksites – with no significant impact on total project costs.

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