President Can Stop Infrastructure Bill From Bilking Taxpayers
By the time this month’s Newsletter edition reaches its readers, the U.S. Congress may well have already received a plan from the Trump Administration calling for the expenditure of a trillion dollars, including $200 billion in federal taxpayer money, over the next decade on infrastructure improvements and modernization.
There is a widespread consensus across America that the deteriorating state of roads, highways, waterways, ports, and other structures constitutes a national emergency. Assuming that is indeed the case, there is all the more reason to ensure that hardworking taxpayers get the biggest possible bang for their buck on federal public works.
That’s one key reason why the National Right to Work Committee is now lobbying the White House to exercise its legal power to suspend Davis-Bacon, a wasteful law that puts union-free hardhats at a gross disadvantage in competing for federal contracts, before any infrastructure spending bill is adopted.
Davis-Bacon Forces Bidders To Follow Big Labor-Dictated Work Rules
In a commentary published April 27 by The Hill, a daily newspaper that bills itself as “the publication of record for policy influencers inside and outside Washington,” National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix explained how Davis-Bacon hurts union-free workers, businesses and taxpayers:
“By forcing bidding to follow union-dictated job classifications, work rules, compliance requirements and cherry-picked union pay scales, Davis-Bacon enables Big Labor to feed at the taxpayers’ trough on federal contracts.”
The ideal and permanent solution for the unfairness and excessive and unnecessary spending caused by Davis-Bacon is congressional repeal of this Great Depression-era relic, adopted by Congress and signed by Big Labor-appeasing GOP President Herbert Hoover in 1931.
But even with self-avowed opponents of monopolistic unionism now wielding operational control over the House, the Senate, and the White House, Davis-Bacon repeal remains an uphill battle.
Any attempt to revoke this special-interest law would be opposed by virtually all Democrat politicians and by a significant number of weak-kneed Republican elected officials.
Fortunately, as Mr. Mix noted in his op-ed, the Davis-Bacon Act itself “expressly provides” for its own suspension by the President of the United States in times of “emergency.”
Taxpayers Could Ultimately Save Hundreds of Billions of Dollars
Would President Donald Trump be criticized by Big Labor politicians for declaring there is an infrastructure emergency in order to suspend Davis-Bacon?
Of course he would. But, given that Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s opponent in last year’s election, herself said publicly last May that the “state of our infrastructure is an emergency,” the partisan criticism would ring hollow.
Indeed, over the years, Davis-Bacon has already been suspended four times during emergencies declared by four different Presidents, including Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who declared a purely economic emergency in 1934.
“Suspending Davis-Bacon by executive order . . . [ultimately] could 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 union dues and fees,” wrote Mr. Mix in The Hill.
Key Original Davis-Bacon Goal Was to Discourage Use of ‘Colored Labor’
Regarding the potential taxpayer savings, he drew upon several independent sources, including a finding, previously cited in a Congressional Research Service report, that the law can “raise total construction costs” by up to 38%.
“Davis-Bacon effectively limits federal public works projects to politically connected unionized firms at the expense of the roughly 85% of American hardhats who have chosen to accept a job with an independent construction company,” said Mr. Mix.
“That’s morally indefensible.
“To make matters worse, one undeniable goal of Davis-Bacon when it was first enacted was to quash competition for white unionized workers and their employers from union-free black workers and their firms.
“At the February 1931 Senate hearings on Davis-Bacon, American Federation of Labor (AFL) union President William Green openly complained about ‘colored labor . . . being brought in’ for a federal post office job in Kingsport, Tenn.
“Mr. Green suggested the legislation was needed to ensure such things didn’t happen again in the future!
“Moreover, although it’s been a long time since there was overtly race-based advocacy for Davis-Bacon, the law has continued to serve a discriminatory function that disproportionately harms racial minorities.
“In 1987, future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas correctly characterized the Davis-Bacon law as a ‘barrier’ against ‘black Americans entering the labor force.’
“Now it’s time for President Trump to suspend this unjust law.”
Committee Public Mobilization Campaign Began in Early 2017
Well aware that previous GOP administrations have been willing to cede federal labor policy on issues like Davis-Bacon to a relative handful of union boss-appeasing Republicans on Capitol Hill, the Right to Work Committee began mobilizing public support for Davis-Bacon suspension early this year.
“The Committee has already contacted tens of thousands of identified grass-roots foes of compulsory unionism across America to urge them to sign petitions to President Trump calling for Davis-Bacon suspension,” said Mr. Mix.
As the time approaches for the White House infrastructure proposal to be presented to Congress, the Committee will be monitoring the White House closely, prepared to expand dramatically its public mobilization campaign if necessary.
“The President ran on putting Americans back to work, on rebuilding our country’s infrastructure to make it fit to serve the needs of 21st century employees and employers and other citizens, and slashing waste in government,” recalled Mr. Mix.
‘Job Targeting’ Schemes Illustrate the Outrageous Unfairness of Davis-Bacon
“It will be a disaster for our country as well as for the Trump presidency,” he continued, “if the White House allows one of Mr. Trump’s signature programs to be commandeered by Big Labor to serve its own agenda over the public interest.
“The Right to Work Committee is determined not to let that happen.”
In addition to urging President Trump to declare an infrastructure emergency in order to suspend Davis-Bacon, Mr. Mix advised him to use the bully pulpit to let the American people know how unfair and harmful this law is.
“Several outrageous court precedents enable big unionized companies to ‘comply’ with Davis-Bacon requirements by utilizing so-called ‘job-targeting’ funds,” said Mr. Mix.
“These funds actually kick back a portion of unionized workers’ wages to the company, potentially leaving workers with actual take-home pay far lower than the official Davis-Bacon rate.
“Any nonunion firm that did the same thing would be in flagrant violation of federal wage laws, but firms that allow their employees to be corralled into unions can get away with taking ‘job-targeting’ kickbacks!
“With a massive federal infrastructure program now looming, this corruption will only get worse, unless the President puts a stop to it. He must do so.