Thursday, October 20, 2005

Gulf Recovery: Paying The Price For Lower Costs

In order to reduce reconstruction costs, President Bush suspended the Davis Bacon law for the Gulf region following Hurrican Katrina. Davis Bacon requires employers who receive federal funds to pay the prevailing wage.

Here's who's really paying the price for the Davis Bacon repeal:
An electrician and foreman with Knight Enterprises cried as he recounted how his team of workers were kicked out of government tents by an out-of-state firm and forced to sleep in their cars.

"Most of our workers, some of whom had lost their homes to the two hurricanes (Katrina and Rita), were sleeping in their personal vehicles and showering in a car wash located on base," Mike Moran said.

Moran's employer was given a 20-month contract to provide power to a camp for military personnel but the contract was cancelled after 17 days.

Knight Enterprises alleges the contract was terminated because the firm was paying the prevailing hourly wage and an outside contractor that was hired paid its workers a lower wage.

After Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, President George W. Bush to waived regulations that require contractors to pay the prevailing or average wage in a region.
For contractors, the benefits of the repeal of Davis Bacon go beyond the opportunity to pay lower wages:
Housing for workers often lacks running water and contractors have failed to provide food, training and wage rates as promised, James Hale, vice president with the Laborers' International Union of North America, told a policy conference of opposition Democrats in the US Senate.

In one case, workers had not been paid for three weeks and at another site there were allegations that security guards were mistreating laborers, said Hale, who supported his allegations with photographs.
Compassionate Conservatism strikes again.

But if Congressman George Miller (D-CA) has his way, the Republican thrill may soon be gone. Miller says that the 1976 National Emergencies Act enables him to force a vote within 15 calendar days of introducing a "Joint Resolution" - which he did at noon today. And there are more than enough Republicans on record (along with Dems) to overturn the wage cut. (via Josh Marshall)