WASHINGTON – By a 231-192 tally, yet another House Republican move to trash workers’ rights and incomes – by repealing the Davis-Bacon Act’s requirement that firms constructing federal projects pay locally prevailing wages – went down the drain on June 4.
Thirty-six Republicans defected from the party consensus against Davis-Bacon. The defectors supported prevailing wages, a key cause of construction unions, which lobbied strongly to keep the wages. All 195 voting Democrats backed Davis-Bacon, while 192 Republicans voted to kill Davis-Bacon, but lost.
The vote came on an amendment to the money bill for military construction, offered by right wing Rep. Steven King, R-Iowa, who has made a name for himself as one of the GOP’s outstanding haters of workers and unions.
King, also a Tea Party favorite and a contender for the seat of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who is retiring next year, tried the same tactic last year, unsuccessfully.
Led by the GOP, Congress enacted Davis-Bacon in the depths of the Great Depression to prevent cut-rate contractors from winning bids for government work by essentially low-balling their workers. It tells the Labor Department to measure locally prevailing wages – which are not necessarily union wages – and then require bidders for government construction contracts to guarantee paying their workers at those levels.
Photo: Republicans failed again this week to kill prevailing wage rules that apply to federal contracts, just as they failed when they tried to gut those standards for Hurricane Sandy (pictured) reconstruction work. WarmSleepy/Flickr (CC)