The push to raise the national minimum wage may be the back burner for now, but there is another way the White House and Congressional Democrats could raise wages, using the infrastructure package as a vehicle, the Davis-Bacon Act.
The DBA requires the recipients of federal government-funded or assisted construction contracts above $2,000 to pay a prevailing wage, plus fringe benefits, to workers on the project. It also applies to apprentices, trainees and helpers.
President Joe Biden telegraphed this approach during remarks in February, when he said: "I think we have an incredible opportunity to make some enormous progress in creating jobs — good-paying jobs, Davis-Bacon and prevailing wage jobs — to rebuild the infrastructure of this country in a way that everybody knows has to be done."
Slipping this wage requirement into stimulus legislation is not a new tactic. DBA obligations were included in the 2009 stimulus bill - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (learn more here)
So businesses eagerly awaiting the tsunami of government contract opportunities once the infrastructure bill - and any other legislation that includes federal funding for construction projects - is passed, should also be prepared to for the same requirements.