Celebrating 2020 prevailing wage wins in Oregon
The NW Carpenters won a substantial victory by defending prevailing wage across multiple counties in Oregon for 2020.
The Davis-Bacon Act, put into effect during the Great Depression in response to complaints about cheap labor replacing skilled workers, makes prevailing wage a requirement for any contractor looking to bid on public work jobs. A common part of government contracting work, prevailing wage establishes the hourly rate as well as the usual benefits and overtime paid to workers within particular areas. This includes federal and state construction projects, such as roads, bridges, schools, universities, ports, libraries, police, fire, military, and more.
In 2019, union carpenter wages prevailed in only 3 of 14 areas around the state of Oregon. Bridge Carpenters, Piledrivers, and Exterior-Interior Systems Carpenters faired better prevailing in about half of the state, while Millwrights prevailed in only 2 areas. As the deadline for 2020 crept closer, contractor responses of the state surveys were low, and it appeared union carpenters would lose even more area in the following year.
WHAT IS PREVAILING WAGE?
Prevailing wage is established by each county based on wage surveys submitted by contractors in November and within their specific scope of work. Those wage determinations are then enforceable by law.
Union carpenters rely on prevailing wage, as it levels the playing field for contractors bidding on publicly funded construction projects while providing fair wages to their employees.
The NW Carpenters Union quickly reacted to the potential problem. The teams, spread across Oregon, spent several weeks contacting hundreds of signatory contractors to ensure their state surveys were turned in in order to secure prevailing wage for the following year. Staff worked with the Bureau of Labor and Industries to ensure success. After thousands of phone calls and in-person visits, Oregon prevailed.
Thank you to the diligence and tenacity of the Oregon staff. We picked up an additional 7 areas for Carpenters, 1 additional area for Bridge Carpenters and Piledrivers, and 2 additional areas for Exterior-Interior Systems Carpenters. The union wage will prevail in most of the state, which will ensure UBC members work on billions of dollars in state Davis-Bacon projects. This is a big win for Union Carpenters in Oregon and will mean continued growth of our market share on public projects.
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