President Trump Must Act to Defend U.S. Taxpayers, Cut the Bacon

An opportunity looms for President Trump to save taxpayers billions. Will he seize it? Credit: AP file photo

Union Bosses Poised to Feed at New $287 Billion Federal Trough

The U.S. Senate is expected soon to take up S.2302, a $287 billion infrastructure package that has substantial support among Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill and about which President Trump has spoken favorably.

Proponents of S.2302, otherwise known as “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act,” present a plausible case that our nation needs to make major expenditures to refurbish our roads, highways, ports, and other structures. However, S.2302 fails to address one of the major drivers of excessive costs and waste in public works execution: the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act.

This 88-year-old statute effectively mandates that contractors bidding on a federal project must pay a set wage determined by D.C. Beltway bureaucrats. Bureaucrats routinely set the wage at whatever construction union bosses want.

And that’s just the beginning.

Bidders Forced to Follow Big Labor Work Rules

By forcing bidders to follow union- boss-dictated job classifications, work rules, and compliance requirements, Davis-Bacon enables Big Labor to feed at the taxpayers’ trough on federal contracts.

Because of Davis-Bacon, open-shop employers cannot work on federal projects without agreeing to operate under inefficient union work rules. They also typically must pay into a pension fund from which few, if any, of their employees will ever receive benefits.

For example, nonunion shops can be forced to abide by a union work rule stating that a worker who swings a hammer isn’t allowed to plug in an extension cord.

Most union-free contractors are not set up to work with such anti-productive job restrictions, so they end up losing out on the work, if they even bid at all.

Davis-Bacon was originally enacted at a time when African American workers were routinely barred from joining construction unions.

One undeniable goal of proponents was to quash competition for white unionized workers and their employers from non-union black workers and their firms.

At a February 1931 hearing, American Federation of Labor (AFL) union chief William Green openly suggested legislation was needed to prevent rival shops from employing nonunion “colored labor.”

Today, Davis-Bacon continues to serve a discriminatory function, generally limiting federal projects to politically-connected unionized firms at the expense of the 87.2% of American construction workers who choose not to join a union.

Independent contractors and subcontractors are left at a deep disadvantage in submitting proposals.

Hundreds of thousands of skilled tradesmen are effectively barred from working on government-funded projects.

Committee Members Call For Davis-Bacon Suspension

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Greg Mourad commented:

“Of course, the firms that participate in Davis-Bacon projects ultimately pass on their compliance costs to the American taxpayer. Davis-Bacon has been estimated by academic and government economists to increase taxpayers’ construction costs by up to 38%.

“Congress has a responsibility to all citizens to ensure their tax dollars are being spent effectively.

“By repealing Davis-Bacon, Congress could potentially fund four projects for every three we can fund under the current regime without increasing spending by a dime. And even if Congress refuses to act, President Trump can. Davis-Bacon itself expressly provides for its own suspension by the U.S. president in times of ‘emergency.’

“Davis-Bacon has already been suspended four times by presidents of both parties.

“Today, there is a widespread consensus that deteriorating roads, bridges and ports are an urgent matter, and 2016 Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton specifically has said ‘the state of our infrastructure’ constitutes ‘an emergency.’

 “By declaring an infrastructure ‘emergency’ and suspending Davis-Bacon, President Trump can ultimately save the American taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars, and stop billions of taxpayer dollars from being diverted into union coffers in the form of mandatory dues and fees.

“For more than two years now, the Committee has been mobilizing Right to Work members nationwide to contact the White House, calling for Davis-Bacon suspension.

“With S.2302 poised to sail through Congress, the time for President Trump to act is running short. Further delay could be disastrous.”