Washington, DC – The Construction Employers of America and the 15,000 employers CEA represents today condemned the introduction of Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) “Transportation Investment Recalibration to Equality (TIRE) Act”, which would eliminate important prevailing wage protections for federal highway construction contracts. For over 80 years, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements have ensured that companies pay fair wages and labor receives fair compensation for work based on local prevailing wages.
“The evidence is unequivocal,” said Jack Jacobson, spokesperson for CEA. “Scores of peer-reviewed studies confirm that overall project costs are not affected by prevailing wage requirements. The American people have made it clear that they expect Congress and the Administration to create more fair-wage, blue collar jobs. This ‘Flat’ TIRE Act will depress wages and eliminate economic opportunity for tens of thousands of hard-working Americans.”
Without Davis-Bacon protections, the country’s transportation construction workers will be more prone to poverty, require public assistance to make ends meet, and will not have access to critical health insurance and retirement benefits, straining Federal entitlement programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. At the same time, the Federal government will not save any money on construction costs.
Prevailing wage safeguards have proven sound construction procurement policy, ensuring project success by respecting and adhering to prevailing workforce standards and wages. Davis-Bacon discourages artificially low bids that undercut high workforce standards. Artificially low bids frequently lead to claims, disputes, and project delays. Established industry and project owner practices in both the private and public sectors recognize that high workforce standards delivery superior project outcomes. Prevailing wage standards also promote using local labor forces for public works projects.
“This is another classic ‘bait and switch’ that prioritizes private company profits over America’s hard-working citizens,” said Jacobson. “Let’s not forget that Davis-Bacon was originally introduced by Republican Senator James Davis and Republican Representative Robert Bacon, and was signed into law by Republican President Herbert Hoover.”
CEA’s specialty construction contractors invest in apprenticeship and training programs, which build a quality workforce that produces high quality work. The Federal government should not undermine local workforce standards, particularly for highways, which are a critical component of America’s infrastructure.
CEA’s six employer associations include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. Our impact on the American economy is significant. We represent over 15,000 employers and 1.4 million employees nationwide. More information about CEA and our issues can be found at www.constructionemployersofamerica.com.