House GOP defeated again on prevailing wages

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)


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.