New Davis-Bacon Rules, Explained

New Davis-Bacon Rules, Explained

Department of Labor Hosts Virtual Primer

Making a critical change that could increase wages for IBEW construction members, the Department of Labor published new rules on the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts in late August to strengthen prevailing wage laws and improve protections for workers on federal construction projects. In mid-September, they hosted a virtual walk-through of the changes and made a recording available here for anyone who missed it. 

The new rules take effect on October 23, 2023. 

The first comprehensive overhaul of the regulations in 40 years, the new rules reverse Reagan-era changes that weakened the law’s original intent – ensuring that federally funded or assisted projects support good-paying local jobs for local workers. Since then, a single low-wage contractor could depress wage rates on federal contracts. 

The updated rules will allow construction workers to gain ground they lost in the 1980s, increasing the wages of millions and preventing low-road contractors from undercutting the workforce. 

Vice President Kamala Harris and Acting Department of Labor Secretary Julie Su unveiled the update in a public appearance on August 8. 

“Many workers are paid much less than they deserve, much less than the value of their work. And not just by a little,” Harris said. “I’m here today to announce that we are updating this law and giving workers across the nation a raise.” 

IBEW International President Kenny Cooper said the new rule modernizes and strengthens the prevailing wage regulations. “It is proof once again that union members are at the heart of the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to rebuild America by restoring the middle class,” Cooper said.

“The rule is especially significant given the major federal investments the Biden-Harris administration has made through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the CHIPS and Science Act, which will create hundreds of thousands of prevailing wage jobs for IBEW members,” Cooper said. “The IBEW applauds this historic achievement and looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration to ensure that federal investments support family-sustaining careers.”  

The Davis Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) require employers to pay laborers and mechanics prevailing wages and fringe benefits when they work on federal or District of Columbia contracts over $2,000 to construct, alter, or repair public buildings and public works. The final rule updates and modernizes the regulations implementing the DBRA to increase the efficiency of the administration of the Act and enhance protections for construction workers. 

On the webinar, personnel from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour and Office of Federal Contracts briefed the audience on key changes, including:

  • Effective date of new rules: October 23, 2023
  • Process for adoption of local wage rates
  • Who is subject to Davis-Bacon standards
  • Government contract enforcement
  • Recordkeeping requirements
  • Enforcement mechanisms

The DOL shared the following resources for further information:

Link to this post here.

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