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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New Orleans and Prevailing Wage

Because so many prominent Democrats are screaming about the President lifting prevailing wage restrictions for the rebuilding of New Orleans and the surrounding area, I did some Davis-Bacon research, and found the Prevailing Wage Tables.

For those who don't know what Davis Bacon is, it requires the payment of a "prevailing wage" on any contract who's value is over two thousand dollars. The determination of prevailing wages are made in two ways. The first is based on collectively bargained (union) wage rates. If half of the workers in a trade in an area are under collectively bargained contracts, according to Davis Bacon that scale will be used. If the fifty percent threshold isn't met, then the average of the wages of people in that trade for the area are used.

Congressman George Miller should probably read the DOL website and find out how prevailing wage works, since his memo on the subject is completely wrong.

So, I looked up (using the above link) the rates for New Orleans, and lo and behold, only carpenters, masons, and common laborers in commercial and residential construction and road construction weren't represented by unions in the area.

Laborers for heavy construction are paid on a negotiated wage scale, and they make only about fifty cents an hour more than those without a union contract, plus some extra benefits.

Sounds like two problems in Louisiana, 1, the unions haven't done a good job of organizing the folks not in heavy construction, and 2, even when they do, they don't get them much of a pay increase. Most of it is probably sucked up by union dues anyway, making it moot.

Now, if you'd like to go into shock, look up the tables for Lake County Illinois, where a common laborer is payed $26 per hour, plus about 40% of that in fringe benefits if they work on a federal contract! Makes me want to push a broom again.

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