President Biden’s March 2021 American Jobs Plan called on Congress to tie federal investments in infrastructure to prevailing wage regulations via the 91-year-old Davis-Bacon Act.
On Nov. 15, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) which includes an expansion of Davis-Bacon requirements. As the bill made its way through Congress, ABC continued to advocate for merit shop priorities in the legislation, ultimately remaining neutral on the passage of the IIJA.
In addition, ABC opposed the House-passed America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), as well as the Senate-passed version that includes prevailing wage expansion. ABC supported an amendment to remove the flawed and inflationary Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements from the Senate bill, but it unfortunately failed. As the bill makes its way through conference, ABC will continue to advocate against anti-competitive provisions.
Further, the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment’s report and recommendations to President Biden urge the DOL to consider automating some of its enforcement of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, suggesting the agency use “bots” to review and compare prevailing wages to “actual weekly certified payroll data.”
On March 18, 2022, the DOL issued a proposed rule that would ”modernize” the Davis-Bacon Act and related regulations. Despite its stated purpose, the rulemaking would instead reverse course by undoing the Reagan administration reforms, making union rates more likely to be adopted as prevailing wages, and expanding prevailing wage requirements to cover certain prefabrication work, transportation and flaggers, among other concerns.
ABC filed a 60-day extension request to provide adequate time to thoroughly analyze the rulemaking and assist affected ABC members with their comment letters. The request was denied by the DOL.
ABC also surveyed contractor members to gather insights on the potentially harmful impacts of this proposal and utilized the data gathered in its comment letter, which was filed on May 17.
In nearly 70 pages of comments on the proposed rule, ABC opposed and provided feedback on many of the more than 50 significant changes in the proposed rule.
On Dec. 16, the DOL sent its final rule updating Davis-Bacon and Related Acts prevailing wage regulations to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget for review. The content of the final rule is expected to be publicized in February 2023 or later, but will likely align closely with the DOL’s proposed rule. The review at the OIRA is usually the final step in the process before a rule is officially published in the Federal Register.
ABC supports the full repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act (H.R. 2218/S. 805) as well as any state and local prevailing wage laws that mandate wage and benefit rates. In the absence of full repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act and state prevailing wage laws, ABC also continues to support legislative and regulatory reform efforts designed to mitigate its negative effects on industry and taxpayer stakeholders and failure to reflect the current market rate. ABC opposes expansion of Davis-Bacon and state and local prevailing wage laws into areas of public and private projects in which it has not been previously mandated.