|4:04 PM EDT||
Pete Visclosky, D-IN 1st
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, Davis-Bacon is a fairly simple concept, and it is a very fair one.
What it does is to protect the government and the taxpayers, as well as the workers, in carrying out the policy of paying a decent wage on government contracts.
The Davis-Bacon Act requires that workers on federally funded construction projects be paid no less than the wages paid in the community for similar work. The fact is that opponents claim Davis-Bacon requires union wage jobs. However, more than 75 percent of Davis-Bacon wage determinations are not based solely on union wages.
The quality of work on energy and water projects, for example, is crucial to the communities depending on them, and we do need individuals who are trained, who are more efficient, and who are going to do the job right the first time. One of the things that tends not to be noted when we have a discussion and debate about Davis-Bacon is the money it saves to the taxpayers that are hidden costs by those who do not use union labor and do not pay union scale wages.
By including fringe benefits in wage calculations, the Davis-Bacon act delivers health care and pensions for workers on Federal projects, ensuring that they aren't part of the many uninsured Americans who rely on Medicaid and cost the American taxpayers. The Department of Labor survey methods also incorporate hourly investments in training and apprenticeship, where appropriate, to ensure the skilled, productive, future workforce.
I would also point out that in the past the House has taken two votes on this issue, the first vote taken included a limitation on Davis-Bacon and was considered in H.R. 1, and it failed by a vote of 189-233. The second vote was a limitation taken during consideration of the FAA bill, and it failed 183-238.
But, most importantly, and the gentleman indicated that he is spurred on to action here because of the recession, is because of the money involved relative to those who work in the United States of America. Since 1977, we have fortunately had great growth in this general economy.
But I would point out to all of the Members that according to the Department of Labor in 1977, the real hourly wage that a human being in the United States of America earned for 1 hour's worth of labor was $19.57. In 2010 the Department of Labor reported that a human being in the United States of America for their human labor for 1 hour now earns $19.04.
People today, for an hour's worth of work, make less than they did in 1977, despite the growth of our economy. The last thing we need to do here today is to put more downward pressure on the ability of an American citizen to work at a good-paying job that guarantees them a decent living, and I strongly oppose the gentleman's amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.