The important infrastructure systems we rely on every day—for clean water, to get to work, to deliver products, to heat our homes, to power our businesses, and to communicate with each other—are crumbling and dangerous.
Putting people back to work repairing and modernizing our infrastructure to be cleaner and more resilient is the best way to rebuild the American middle-class and help our communities recover from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
President Biden’s American Jobs Plan puts us on the path to doing just that, making significant investments to rebuild and modernize our infrastructure, reduce the emissions driving climate change, and rebuild American manufacturing—while creating high-quality, union jobs across the country.
Expanding clean energy infrastructure is a critical component. As we invest and incentivize more construction through renewable energy tax credits, we must not leave American workers and their communities behind.
To ensure that clean energy jobs are good jobs, we must require projects receiving taxpayer assistance to comply with federal labor requirements, including payment of Davis-Bacon prevailing wages.
What are prevailing wages?
- Prevailing wage laws are a pathway to the middle-class and protect all workers against exploitation regardless of race or ethnicity. They level the playing field for contractors, preventing employers from discriminating against any group of workers by paying them less.
- Under prevailing wage laws, contractors must compete for work based on who can best train, best equip, and best manage a construction crew — not on the basis of who can assemble the cheapest, most exploitable workforce — either locally or through the importation of labor.
- Prevailing wages do not affect construction costs. Numerous studies prove that prevailing wages have no impact on construction costs. This is because construction labor costs comprise a low share of total project costs. High-road contractors, those contractors who pay workers with family sustaining wages and benefits, can offset the hourly labor costs attributable to prevailing wage laws by hiring the most skilled and productive building trades workers. Further, in an economy where qualified craft workers are in high demand, prevailing wage laws maintain a critical safeguard of workforce development and recruitment via registered apprenticeship training programs.
- Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws, since their inception, have always had bipartisan support. Safeguarding fair wages for hard working construction workers has prevailed regardless of party control of Congress. Elected officials have recognized that it is only fair that skilled craft workers who operate dangerous heavy machinery safely, continually train and upgrade skills, and ensure that our infrastructure is built to quality standards are paid a competitive wage.
tell congress to protect workers for a clean energy future