Patterico's Pontifications

2/20/2010

Union Rules Delay Stimulus Projects

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 10:09 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Mickey Kaus explains how Davis-Bacon wage regulations are delaying Stimulus projects:

Unions vs. stimulation: The home “weatherization” jobs in the stimulus bill were subjected to Davis-Bacon wage regulations–a favorite of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department–under which federal Labor Department officials establish “prevailing wage” rates that must be paid. Why do unions like this system? Because the “prevailing wages” are determined in a way that guarantees they are usually more than the actual market wage, sometimes by large margins. All that finagling takes a certain amount of bureaucracy, however–and time. ABC’s Jonathan Karl:

“According to the GAO report, the Department of Labor spent most of last year trying to determine the prevailing wage is for weatherization work, a determination that had to be made for each of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States. [E.A.]

As a result, the Department of Energy apparently weatherized only 22,000 homes under the program. Another pre-existing program, which doesn’t have to comply with Davis-Bacon, appears to have weatherized about 100,000 homes, if my math is right.”

Kaus adds a post-script regarding one town that turned down Stimulus funds because Davis-Bacon would have meant a net loss for the city.

— DRJ

17 Responses to “Union Rules Delay Stimulus Projects”

  1. that happened in California kind of too when the gay unions decided that they wanted to get into the solar roof business

    The Million Solar Roofs bill, the biggest solar power policy considered in the nation, was killed again by the California Assembly today after months of high-profile attention and bipartisan votes in both chambers.

    […]

    Over the past six months the bill, SB 1, passed through five committees as well as the State Senate by a strong bipartisan vote of 30-5. The bill was derailed when it reached its second to last stop, the Assembly Appropriations Committee where three amendments were added to the bill after intense lobbying of two labor unions, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the State Building Trades Council. Two other unions, Carpenters and Laborers, opposed these amendments, two of which were geared toward electricians.*

    It later passed I think and I don’t know whether the union pansies got their way or not. It’s California though, so you can probably make a safe guess.

    It was a stupid bill anyway but you need solar panels cause these California losers are scared of generating power. Even Arnold. Scared like little girls.

    happyfeet (713679)

  2. Good thing there was not a supply of labor sitting around doing nothing last year while the government dithered over how to spend other peoples’ money, otherwise you might have heard some complaints.

    That Stimulus bill is working like a charm.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  3. Davis-Bacon is a law, named after it’s two republican sponsors. It’s not a “union rule.”

    imdw (688568)

  4. Do you sit around trying to think of ways to not address topics, while appearing to tangentially address topics?

    JD (1138b8)

  5. Davis-Bacon allows the Secretary of Labor to set the wages for all bid contracts. He gets to pick what it is. The act doesn’t force the Secretary of Labor to us union labor prices. That’s something they get to decide on their own.

    And the law was passed in 1931. So blaming Republicans for it seems a bit trite.

    Newtons.Bit (b10556)

  6. Huh. I live in Canada and just “weatherized” a small rental building I own and I didn’t need a union or a study wage rates or anything. I went to Home Depot (an American firm you’ll note) ordered really good replacement windows and bales of insulation at a great price and when the stuff came I called my man Fraser and asked him how much he wanted.

    He said $30 an hour for him and $20 for his girlfriend-helper. We haggled over coffee for a while and settled on $40/hr for the both of them, cash, no checks, receipts neither requested nor supplied, tax man invited to butt out.

    We came in under budget so I had him paint the place too.

    There is less unemployment than governments think and many of us, hirers and hired, are in open rebellion.

    Fred Z (0411be)

  7. “Do you sit around trying to think of ways to not address topics, while appearing to tangentially address topics?”

    The topic is a law that’s been on the books since 1931. It is incorrect to call it a “union rule.”

    “And the law was passed in 1931. So blaming Republicans for it seems a bit trite.”

    Blaming?

    imdw (05d41e)

  8. That Davis-Bacon wage calculations have morphed into a distortion of the intent of the original law is beyond dispute. A bias toward the use of unionized wage rates inflates the cost of government contracts and contributes to the exclusion of minority participation in contracting, again, conclusions which are not disputable.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  9. New York State goes one better on this… it not only requires that wages on all contracts for public work must be the “prevailing wage” (which by amazing coincidence is always union scale), it also requires (via the so-called “Wicks Law”)that the HVAC, plumbing, etc. phases of the job be bid out seperately. My municipal employer sent out a Request for Proposals for a major waste recycling facility. The officers of the winner, a firm from Massachusetts,were horrified to find out that they would have to get seperate bids, per Wicks, driving up the cost of the job by at least 10%.

    Mike (2c1e02)

  10. cash, no checks, receipts neither requested nor supplied, tax man invited to butt out.

    Under-the-table transactions are very common in countries like Mexico or, for that matter, places like Los Angeles. Locations where a high percentage of people vote along the lines of usual-suspect liberals.

    Speaking of which, I know one person who’s a big fan of Obama and a stereotypical liberal. Ironically — or I should say NOT ironically (again, since I know the reality of many liberals being “limousine liberals,” meaning they’re major phonies in their generosity and compassion) — who is the biggest cheapskate when it comes to paying for various types of work, much of it involving independent contractors and therefore in the category of under-the-table labor. He’ll haggle with lowly workers until they’re blue in the face.

    The guy also ironically — or NOT ironically — bends over backwards to avoid paying taxes on various transactions he’s involved with.

    So many people with liberal biases: Not worth a damn.

    Mark (411533)

  11. Davis-Bacon was passed to deal with complaints of local contractors (and unions) of out of area contractors bringing in out of area workers that were taking the jobs of local workers/contractors at lower rates on Federal construction projects.
    Both Davis & Bacon were members of the GOP, though the House in 1931 was organized by the Dems (by the single vote of an Ind, it was otherwise split 217-217), and the legislation was signed by the Third Progressive President, Herbert Hoover, who was concerned about the downward spiral in wages, and thought that such legislation would help maintain consumer spending.
    In the depths of the Depression, it was suspended for some time by FDR, as it conflicted with certain programs of the New Deal.
    Several States had already passed Prevailing Wage Legislation by the time that Congress presented Hoover with the bill, that was supported by both the business and labor communities overall.
    It has been a bone of contention between the business and labor communities, and their respective political representatives, since its passage. Labor sees it as a guarantee of union-rates on projects, business sees it as an increase in costs. And now, we see that in satisfying the requirements of Davis-Bacon of establishing a bench-mark rate, it drastically slows down the implementation of even worthwhile projects.

    AD - RtR/OS! (b35340)

  12. I know I shouldn’t do this, but:

    Davis-Bacon is a law, named after it’s two republican sponsors.

    What’s your point?

    The topic is a law that’s been on the books since 1931. It is incorrect to call it a “union rule.”

    How does the fact it’s been on the books since 1931 mean it’s not a “union rule”?

    I know you’re just doing your compulsive thing to send the thread off on a tangent.

    When I saw the topic of the thread I figured you or Intelliology would say: “Gee I didn’t know high wages were bad”.

    Gerald A (a66d02)

  13. Actually what I should have asked is how it being on the books since 1931 means anything about whether it ‘s rational to have such a law, which is what the topic is about.

    Gerald A (a66d02)

  14. “How does the fact it’s been on the books since 1931 mean it’s not a “union rule”?”

    Meaning, it is not a rule that unions have in their contracts with people. It’s a law that has to be followed whether you are dealing with a union or not.

    “I know you’re just doing your compulsive thing to send the thread off on a tangent.”

    You’re off on a tangent to call this a “union rule.”

    “Actually what I should have asked is how it being on the books since 1931 means anything about whether it ’s rational to have such a law, which is what the topic is about.”

    The rationality is simple: to prevent federal money from depressing local wages.

    imdw (1164ed)

  15. You’re off on a tangent to call this a “union rule.”

    I didn’t call it a union rule. But never mind that.

    The rationality is simple: to prevent federal money from depressing local wages.

    What’s that argument got to do with it being a 1931 law, or Davis and Bacon being Republicans?

    As to the argument, federal money could not depress local wages.

    Gerald A (a66d02)

  16. imdw,

    Your quibble is with the headline, not the text of the post. It’s a reasonable quibble and I’ll take it up with my headline writer when she has time in her schedule to devote to quibbles.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  17. “The rationality is simple: to prevent federal money from depressing local wages.”

    Can you explain the mechanics of the process you believe is prevented by the bill?

    daleyrocks (718861)


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