Davis Bacon and Prevailing Wages

Protecting Paychecks, Defending Taxpayers and Creating Build America Jobs

Federal Davis-Bacon law sets a wage floor for federal construction projects that prevents government spending from undermining local wages and living standards. Thirty-two states also have “Little Davis Bacon Acts” or state prevailing wage laws that apply to state-funded construction projects.

Prevailing wage laws ensure that all contractors bidding on public construction projects will pay family-supporting wages and that these projects will be built to the highest standards by skilled, safe, well-trained construction craftspeople. The projects built under the Davis-Bacon Act have stood the test of time while enabling generations of craftspeople to build better, stronger lives for themselves and their families.

Corporate interests and their advocates claim that Davis-Bacon increases taxpayer costs, but numerous studies have shown it does not. Employers who oppose prevailing wage do so because they want to cut workers’ paychecks and pocket the pay-cuts as profits.

Far from saving taxpayers money, repealing the Davis-Bacon Act and state prevailing wage laws lowers the quality of projects, leading to costly delays, repairs, and even re-dos down the line, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. Lowering these wages also dries up local and state tax revenue, creating a race to the bottom that benefits no one.

Davis Bacon Prevailing Wage Surveys

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for conducting wage surveys and determining the local prevailing wages.  DOL collects project wage data and then determines the prevailing rates for each construction classification in each county and publishes the rates at www.wdol.gov. LIUNA participates in wage surveys to protect the livelihood of LIUNA members. Find out more in LIUNA’s Field Guide to Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Surveys or check the prevailing wage determinations for your area.

U.S. Congress and Davis Bacon

Anti-worker groups like the Associated Builders and Contractors and other corporate interests have been pushing a radical agenda in Congress to remove federal Davis Bacon protections and block the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects.  Lawmakers voted on nearly a dozen bills in the previous Congress that threatened Davis Bacon and PLAs and one vote has been held in the current Congress – but more are expected.