Republican Congressman Steve King says it’s time to do away with a federal requirement the “prevailing wage” be paid to employees working on construction projects that are financed with federal funds.
“When you have a relationship between two people and they agree to a wage scale, that’s all that should be required here,” King says. “Instead, this federal minimum wage scale sets a union scale. It’s not prevailing wage. It’s union scale.”
A federal agency calculates the prevailing wage for laborers, electricians and other construction tradesmen in areas of the country. King argues the requirement inflates the cost of federally-financed construction projects, like highways.
“I started a construction company in 1975. We almost immediately had to deal with the federal government coming in and saying: ‘On this side of the road you shall pay your shovel operator this and on the other side of the road you shall pay him something that might be half again more than that and the guy that’s with the grease gun gets this and the one that runs the excavator gets that,'” King says. “The federal government micromanaging and disrupting the efficiencies in our construction companies results in far higher costs for our construction projects.”
The prevailing wage requirement is for any federally-funded construction contract worth two-thousand dollars or more. King made his remarks on the House floor this past week as he proposed an amendment which would have repealed the prevailing wage requirement. King’s amendment failed on a 181-239 vote.