Federal Prevailing Wage Rule Change: More Money for Workers, Less Value for Taxpayers - GV Wire - Explore. Explain. Expose
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Federal Prevailing Wage Rule Change: More Money for Workers, Less Value for Taxpayers

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Vice President Kamala Harris announces labor rule changes that raise wages for construction workers but draws criticism from builders. (AP File)
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PHILADELPHIA — Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday announced changes to labor rules that would give higher wages to construction workers on federal projects.

In a speech in Philadelphia, Harris said the Labor Department has provided the first update in decades to the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, a law that requires the payment of prevailing local wages on public works.

“Many workers are paid much less than they deserve, much less than the value of their work,” Harris said. “And not just by a little. In some cases, by thousands of dollars a year. And that is wrong.”

New Rule Implementation

The new rule is something of a return to the past. It will use the definition of prevailing wage that the Labor Department relied on from 1935 to 1983, likely raising the hourly earnings of contractors and subcontractors.

More than 1 million construction workers with jobs on roughly $200 billion worth of federally supported projects will benefit, the Democratic vice president’s office said in an email statement.

Impact on Workers

The new rule “will mean thousands of extra dollars per year in workers’ pockets to help put a down payment on a home, save for retirement, or simply have more breathing room,” the statement said.

While workers would earn more money, critics such as the Associated Builders and Contractors have said the Davis-Bacon requirements make construction projects more expensive for taxpayers.

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