President Biden’s March 2021 American Jobs Plan called on Congress to tie federal investments in infrastructure to prevailing wage regulations via the 90-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 U.S. Department of Labor 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.”
Finally, DOL intends to issue a proposed rule that would ”modernize” the Davis-Bacon Act and related regulations. ABC plans to comment on the proposal and address any opportunities to improve and reform the act, as well as oppose any efforts to make the rule more onerous for small businesses, merit shop contractors and taxpayers.
On March 18, 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 1983 reforms, making union rates more likely to be adopted as prevailing wages, and expanding prevailing wage requirements to cover certain prefabrication work, among other concerns.
The comment period is currently set to end May 17, as the DOL denied ABC’s 60-day extension request to provide adequate time to thoroughly analyze the rulemaking and assist affected ABC members with their responses. ABC has surveyed contractor members to gather insight on the potentially harmful impacts of this proposal and will utilize the data gathered in drafting comments to be filed before the current May 17 deadline.
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.