President Trump Must Act to Defend U.S. Taxpayers, Cut the Bacon
Union Bosses Poised to Feed at New $287 Billion Federal
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
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Davis-Bacon was originally enacted at a time when African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
“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