OK, so I opened up a can of worms.
To follow up on my last blog on prevailing wage — this is a very complicated and sensitive issue. Many people have asked for solutions and guidance. The current political climate is shifting project labor agreements (PLAs) and prevailing wage beyond the norm into things like FEMA, stimulus projects, etc. These have long been part of public works projects in which percentages of federal monies are used (as is minority participation, etc). So, airports, transit, libraries, VA jobs, army corps of engineers, etc. have traditionally been prevailing wage jobs.
Recently, the Green Building Law Update blog offered information on prevailing wage rates for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ARRA projects – and yes, we have to abide by prevailing wage rates. In general, whenever you see that a project is funded by any tax-supported agency, you should consider prevailing wage.
Now this appears to be extending into any tax abatement areas. An example is a new community business park where the federal, state and/or city give tax incentives and, consequently, they assign PLAs and prevailing wages to the projects. This leads our members to ask NSCA what they can do to win the bid and still comply while being competitive.
There are a few solutions to this, but be sure you know what the proper classification for our profession/occupation is before you bid. Often, you can request a new NAICS/SIC code/classification on the Davis-Bacon compliance forms (similar to payroll forms); use of an apprenticeship program can also help you reduce prevailing wage rates by 40-50. The main point here is to have full knowledge of exactly what you are getting yourself into before bidding.
NSCA knows you are paying your employees well, but a requirement to pay a wage that doesn’t fit the work classification will disqualify many of you from publicly funded jobs. Especially now, it’s a scramble. If you establish an industry wage before the bid, it’s a win/win situation for everyone involved. But, in many cases, it may not be possible to change the wage after the fact, which could be costly. CW