is a link to the Orleans county "prevailing wages" as determined by the US Department of Labor for commercial work.Here
is the link for residential work.
I have another link
for highway work.
There are 3 links for Heavy Industrial work.
This is all for one county is Louisiana. Go outside that county, and you have a different set of rates.
The lowest rate for commercial work is $9.32 for mason tenders. Mason tenders are the guys who haul around the stuff needed at a construction site. The only skill required is a strong back, basically.
I don't want to dwell on the wage part, however.
What I wanted to say is that for unionized companies, conforming to these guidelines is not a problem, since their job descriptions are already set up along these lines. It is easy for them to prove, for instance, that they pay their Mason Tenders at least $9.32 an hour.
Now, move to a small, non-unionized firm. They may have more general laborers who do both electrician work and pipefitting. Do they pay these guys at least $22.09 base pay and at least $6.00 fringe benefits (as an electrician) or do they pay at least $21.55 an hour base plus $5.70 fringes? Can they easily prove (before getting a contract) that they meet the requirements? What if they move to a different parish with a higher wage schedule?
Clearing up this nonsense is simply a way to streamline the process. It is not, as some would suggest, a cover for "Screwing the little guy". It is a way to get smaller companies, non-union, and minority owned companies a piece of this business.
I am really surprised at some people defending Davis-Bacon. It is a throwback piece of legislation with a racist origin. It keeps minorities and non-union shops out of government contracts. It is a barrier to entry for the little guy. It was challenged in court in 1993 by minority business owners as being un-Constitutional. link
Davis-Bacon sets an unreasonably high rate of pay on jobs for these contracts. It freezes out unskilled (often minority) workers from doing jobs that they should be able to do. In the process, it robs them of the on the job experience they could acquire to obtain better skills (and pay).
For example, after the Rodney King riots in LA, unemployment in the areas affected by the riots for minorities was at 27.6%, despite the availability of laborers. Local firms simply could not pay that wage level and remain competitive.
After Hurricane Andrew, President Bush (41) suspended Davis-Bacon, which resulted in the creation of between 5,000 and 11,000 jobs locally.
When you force firms to pay inflated wages, they are going to hire people they know have the skills required. They cannot hire unskilled labor and use them (or train them) for skilled positions. In other words, people cannot even help to rebuild their own homes unless they are paid an inflated rate.
The drawbacks that Davis-Bacon have had over the years keep minorities down and keep unskilled laborers unskilled. Fixing wage prices has never worked.
Why are local Congresspersons praising the suspension of Davis-Bacon? Are they committing political suicide?Administration Grants Norwood Request for Temporary Suspension of Davis-Bacon Act Restrictions on Rebuilding After Katrina
House Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Charlie Norwood (R-GA) today praised quick action by the Bush Administration in temporarily suspending expensive and bureaucratic wage regulations in response to the massive federal reconstruction efforts necessary after Hurricane Katrina.
“This type of quick action to strip away unnecessary bureaucracy that may hamper our ability to recover is exactly the kind of leadership we need in this crisis,” says Norwood. “Davis-Bacon Act rules are onerous and drive up the cost of any project to which they are applied under normal circumstances, and the nation can’t afford that kind of inefficiency, red tape, and inflated costs when we have an entire region to rebuild, largely at taxpayer expense.”
Norwood and Louisiana Congressman Charles W. Boustany, MD had requested the Administration follow the example set after Hurricanes Andrew and Iniki in 1992. Davis-Bacon Act restrictions were temporarily lifted for the disaster areas in Miami and Hawaii, leading to speedier and less costly rebuilding efforts.
The rhetoric surrounding this makes it sound like Bush is doing something no other President would dare. An AFL-CIO spokesman said this is a "shameful government-sponsored wage race to the bottom for workers". Others have called it government looting of workers wages. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (during New Deal projects
), Nixon (to ease inflation), and George HW Bush (Hurricane Andrew) have all suspended Davis-Bacon. It is nauseating to hear that some people think that the people who were left behind with no transportation are being hurt by this. If anything, they are being helped. I highly doubt that there are many construction workers (skilled tradesmen) who had no car and were left behind because of it.
These people have an opportunity now to get a job (at a lower wage, probably) and build up a skill set so they can improve their lot in life. Starting mason tenders at $9.32 means that only experienced (and reliable) workers will be employed. Newly unemployed or long-time job seekers need not apply.