ABC recently surveyed contractor members regarding Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage regulations, and the results clearly demonstrate that ABC members oppose Davis-Bacon Act regulations and have serious concerns about the sweeping changes recently proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The 1931 Davis-Bacon Act and 71 related regulations require contractors and subcontractors that perform work on federal and federally funded construction projects to pay a government-determined prevailing wage and benefit rate on an hourly basis to on-site construction workers. The DOL estimates the DBA collectively applies to an estimated $217 billion in federal and federally assisted construction spending per year­—which is about two thirds of all public works spending in 2021—and provides government-determined wage rates for an estimated 1.2 million U.S. construction workers.

On March 18, the DOL issued an ABC-opposed proposed rule that would undo Reagan-era reforms, expand coverage of prevailing wage requirements onto new projects and industries and ensure that union wage rates prevail more often, as highlighted in this Littler analysis.

ABC surveyed its members to gauge their opinions on this rulemaking and assist in drafting informed comments.

Highlights from the survey include:

ABC members continue to oppose current DBA regulations and strongly support repeal or reform.

  • 74% of surveyed members support full repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act, and 83% support significant reforms.
  • Approximately 80% somewhat or strongly disagree with statements that Davis-Bacon regulations result in better quality projects, cost savings for taxpayers, increased safety or other benefits that unions and DBA advocates claim.

ABC members clearly indicated that the DBA increases administrative burdens and costs, artificially inflates wages and discourages competition.

  • Less than 10% of survey participants somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement that DBA results in fewer construction projects and less construction job creation overall.
  • 94% somewhat or strongly agree that the DBA increases the overall cost of construction.
  • 94% somewhat or strongly agree that DBA regulations result in more administrative burdens and costs than non-DBA projects.
  • 88% somewhat or strongly agree that DBA inflates market wages and fringe benefits above market rates.
  • More than 75% somewhat or strongly agree with statements that DBA regulations discourage competition from small businesses and small business contractors overall, respectively.

ABC members believe the existing wage determination process is flawed.

  • Just 3.5% somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement that the DBA wage determination process should be replaced with a modern survey process.
  • 74% somewhat or strongly disagree with the statement that DBA results in wage and benefit rates that reflect local area standards.

The vast majority of members do not participate in wage surveys, indicating the failure of the WHD to engage the full contractor community and obtain accurate wage data.

  • 77% stated they do not participate, including 73% of small businesses.
  • 58% indicate the reason as lack of awareness of surveys.

ABC members oppose the proposed rule because it will exacerbate existing problems with DBA regulations.

  • 87% of members said the proposed rule will increase time spent on compliance.
  • 58% said the proposed “30% rule” will decrease accuracy of wage determinations.
  • 70% think cross-consideration of urban rural wage data will decrease accuracy of wage determinations.

“This data, as well as findings from previous ABC member surveys, is extremely valuable as ABC pushes back on the Biden administration’s proposed radical changes to Davis-Bacon Act regulations and files its extensive comments before the May 17 comment deadline,” said ABC Vice President of Regulatory, Labor and State Affairs Ben Brubeck.  “Now is the time for individual ABC members and affected stakeholders to submit comments opposing this costly and burdensome proposal.”

ABC members can provide comments on the DOL’s rule through two options:

For additional resources and information on the rulemaking, please visit abc.org/DavisBacon.