CHN: White House Forced to Back Down on Davis-Bacon Wage Protections
This week the Bush administration reinstated a rule requiring contractors of the federal government to pay prevailing local wages to its employees. The rule, mandated by the Davis-Bacon Act enacted over 70 years ago, was suspended in Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina when the administration claimed that recovery and reconstruction would be more efficient without the wage protection in place.
Thirty-seven Republican legislators from labor-friendly districts joined Democrats in criticizing the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act. The wage protection was originally intended to prevent the federal government from interfering with or distorting local labor markets, and there is anecdotal evidence that at least some people employed by federal contractors in the Gulf Coast have in fact been displaced by workers willing to work for lower wages after the suspension of the rule. Representative George Miller (D-CA) led the Democratic opposition to the suspension and planned on bringing up a resolution that would lead to a floor vote on the issue. Many credit the prospect of an embarrassing floor vote with forcing the Administration to change its policy.