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White House Signs Off on Rule for Federal Infrastructure Wages

Feb. 8, 2022, 2:54 PM

The White House’s regulatory office has completed review of a U.S. Department of Labor proposal that would address how contractors are paid when working on federally funded infrastructure projects, signaling it could be released soon.

The proposal would “update and modernize” the Davis-Bacon Act to “provide greater clarity” and enhance the law’s “usefulness in the modern economy,” according to a White House summary.

The 1931 law requires workers on federally funded construction projects to receive “prevailing wages,” or pay and benefits equal to local rates for similar jobs. Building trades unions have long criticized how the law has been enforced, particularly how employers determine the prevailing wages they must pay workers on projects bankrolled by the federal government.

The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs completed its review of the proposed rule on Monday, according to a posting on the office’s website. Approval from the White House’s regulatory gatekeeper is usually the last step before a rule is released to the public.

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Changes to federal prevailing wage requirements would apply to the wave of new public works projects funded in whole or in part by the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last year.

While the details of the proposal are not yet public, the White House completed its review the same day it released a long-awaited report from the administration’s Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.

The task force urged DOL to consider automating some of its enforcement of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements, suggesting the agency use “bots” to review and compare prevailing wages to “actual weekly certified payroll data.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Rainey at rrainey@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com