Prevailing wage, project labor agreements protect living standards for construction workers

By ROBBIE HUNTER
July 6, 2017 at 12:01 am

In an era of political hyperventilation, it might be a good idea for some critics to take a deep breath before they launch into their attacks on the prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements that protect the living standards of construction workers in California and across the nation.

From Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, anti-union writers in recent weeks have incorrectly branded the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act that wrote the prevailing wage into the law on taxpayer-funded construction projects as born of racism and a rip-off of public funds. The same critics also have falsely characterized project labor agreements as costly to taxpayers and unfair to nonunion construction companies.

Now, for the facts.

Two Republican congressmen, Sen. James Davis of Pennsylvania and U.S. Rep. Roger Bacon of New York, sponsored their legislation 86 years ago to establish a minimum wage on taxpayer-funded construction projects, based on local measures of central tendency in any of the covered construction trades.

The idea behind the prevailing wage is to keep unscrupulous operators from low-bidding the legitimate competition to the detriment of the local workforce. The effect has been to allow blue-collar workers – 400,000 of whom are represented by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California – to maintain their place in the American middle class.

Of the false charges that have been lodged of late about Davis-Bacon, perhaps the most repugnant is the smear that recirculates every so often that the act originated as an outgrowth of racism. The critics troll through the historic record to quote some congressmen in the debate over Davis-Bacon who supported the law based on their own warped view that it was designed to protect higher-paid white workers in the northeast represented by the authors of the law from “cheap colored labor” that would be imported to their districts from the South. The critics fail, however, to report Congressman Bacon’s reply that imported workers came in white skin as well as black.

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U.S. Economy, contractors, and American workers benefit from PLAs

BY SEAN MCGARVEY, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
04/24/17 04:30 PM EDT

 

Chuck Goodrich, the Chair of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), recently slammed Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for not, as he proclaimed, creating “equal opportunity for the entire construction industry.”

Oh, the irony.

Because at the heart of all PLAs is the concept of “opportunity” – for workers, contractors, businesses, whole communities and, yes, taxpayers.
This theme of “opportunity” was central when nearly 3,000 members of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) just convened in our nation’s capital to discuss topline policy priorities, including – and especially – the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure and the need to ensure strong community wage and benefit standards for hard-working Americans

Today, NABTU and its signatory contractors invest more than $1.2 billion annually to fund and operate over 1,600 joint labor-management training centers across the U.S. which, in turn, produce the safest, most highly-skilled, and productive craft workers found anywhere in the world.

Further, NABTU leads the construction industry in innovative workforce development by providing increased opportunities to underserved communities and diversifying the construction workforce through the use of apprenticeship readiness programs and formal apprenticeship training and education.

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White House Holds Meeting at Kilmer’s Request to Promote the Hiring of Local Workers on Federal Construction Projects

April 12, 2016
by RealEstateRama

Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) – Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) joined U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Celia Munoz at the White House with a local labor leader, members of Congress, and other officials for a meeting on growing opportunities for local workers that can make it easier to complete large, complex construction projects on time and under budget.

The discussion focused on the benefits of increasing the number of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) to put more skilled local workers on federal construction projects. Kilmer highlighted the future Bangor Explosive Handling Wharf, now under construction in Kitsap County under a PLA, as an example of how the agreements can work.

PLAs have proven to be successful management tools that provide cost effective and timely completion of high-quality federal projects. In 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13502 to promote the use of PLAs in federal projects.

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