The Davis-Bacon Act requires employers to provide minimum wage
and fringe benefits to workers on federal government construction
projects. Even though the act applies only to direct contracts
between contractors and the federal or Washington, D.C.,
governments, Congress frequently includes prevailing-wage
requirements in laws that fund a wide variety of state and local
projects through federal grants or loan guarantees, such as
highways, airports, public housing and water-treatment facilities.
Following is detailed information about the act and how it affects
you and your workers.
The Davis-Bacon Act was enacted in 1931 near the close of the
Hoover presidency with two Republican legislators as its lead
sponsors: Sen. James Davis of Pennsylvania and Rep. Robert Bacon of
New York. The law had the twin goals of protecting workers from the
corrosive effects of wage competition and protecting the business
interests of local construction contractors from out-of-town
competitors that had lower labor costs. Because federal government
construction contracts traditionally have been awarded to the
lowest-priced responsive and responsible contractor, unrestrained
competition can result in contract awards to a bidder who cuts
wages to the greatest extent possible. Left unchecked, this kind of
wage competition can produce a deflationary "race to the bottom" of
the wage scale.
Legislation to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act is introduced during
almost every session of Congress, yet the law has proved to be
remarkably resilient with support that has cut across traditional
party and ideological lines for...
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