The Case for Prevailing Wage
November 6, 2013
The federal Davis-Bacon Act – along with its state and local counterparts — helps keep construction jobs good jobs and maintain high standards in the industry by requiring contractors receiving public funds to pay the local prevailing wage.
Opponents of Davis-Bacon like Corbett claims it drives up costs and is unfair to nonunion contractors. But as Williamsport, Pa., Local 821 Business Manager Jim Beamer writes in a letter to the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, the cost of letting contractors drive down wages ends up driving down skills and quality as well.
Beamer also questions the assertion that eliminating prevailing wage reduces taxpayers’ costs.
“The facts from other states show that the cost savings never materializes when prevailing wage laws are eliminated. Wages go down, reworks increase, safety slides and projects experience delays,” he writes. “What evidence has anyone presented where a state has repealed prevailing wage and actually achieved the projected savings?”
Many economic researchers agree with Beamer.
“A growing body of economic analysis finds that prevailing wage regulations do not inflate the costs of government construction contracts,” wrote Economic Policy Institute researcher Nooshin Mahalia in 2008.
She points to the following reasons:
She also points to research showing that prevailing wage projects have higher safety rates, with construction-related fatalities 25 percent lower in prevailing wage states.
Click here to read the whole report.
And Pennsylvania residents click here to tell you lawmaker to protect prevailing wage.