Who Doesn’t Love Bacon?
It can be difficult to find issues that Democrats and Republicans can come to the table and agree on, but according to recent surveys, Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage laws make for great dinner conversation. Most voters, roughly 77%, support prevailing wages on public infrastructure projects while just 23% would eliminate them. The favorable polls include the majorities of Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters.
So What is Davis-Bacon?
In government contracting, prevailing wages are determined based on the current market wages and benefits for skilled workers. They are defined as the hourly wage and overtime paid to most workers, laborers, and mechanics within an area and establish the base-level salary of skilled workers on government projects. The Davis-Bacon Act, signed by Republican President Herbert Hoover in 1931, protects prevailing wages on a federal level, while 30 states have their own “Little Bacon” laws protecting prevailing wage on state projects.
Prevailing wage laws benefit military veterans and help close the wage gaps for women and people of color.
What about the 23% who don’t love bacon? Critics of prevailing wage claim that increased wages lead to higher costs, thus stagnating the market. However, long term studies have shown no evidence to support these assertions. In fact, studies indicate repealing Bacon laws results in less workforce training, higher injury and mortality rates, lower health benefits coverage, and of course, much lower wages. Conversely, studies suggest the net benefits of prevailing wage laws far exceed the costs. Introducing Bacon laws has been linked to increased local hiring, lower poverty, safer work-sites, and a more productive, efficient workforce. Additionally, areas that strengthen their Bacon laws reduce spending on Medicaid and public assistance, such as food stamps, for construction workers. This means less of a drain on critical public services, which benefits taxpayers.
Construction is America’s fourth largest industry, and directly supports more than 6.6 million jobs.
Roughly a quarter of the industry’s output – more than $360 billion – is spent on public projects, including roads, bridges, schools, transit systems, government buildings, and water projects. Davis- Bacon laws don’t simply guarantee workers are paid fairly, they ensure publicly-funded projects benefit the greater good, from concept to completion. When employees are a paid a fair living wage, they work harder.
The value of Bacon is more than good—it’s great!