FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2005
MAYOR BLOOMBERG CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RESCIND SUSPENSION OF DAVIS-BACON ACT ALONG GULF COAST
The following is the text of a letter that Mayor Bloomberg sent to President Bush and Congressional leaders today.
Dear Mr. President:
On September 8, 2005, you issued a Proclamation to suspend the application of Davis-Bacon Act in the Katrina-devastated areas of the Gulf Coast and in similarly effected counties on the east coast of Florida. I urge you to reconsider that decision.
Davis-Bacon requires payment of wages and fringe benefits that prevail in the geographic area based on a determination by the Secretary of Labor. These wage standards provide a minimum standard of compensation for workers and stability within the construction industry. These standards prevent downward pressure on wages by government contractors and an ensuing race to the bottom of the wage scale. Under Davis-Bacon prevailing wages in New Orleans are $13.42 per hour for a carpenter, $13.93 for a backhoe operator and $9.25 for a general laborer.
After September 11th 2001, New York City faced a massive clean-up of the World Trade Center site. New York City put together an army of skilled trades-people that untangled the wreckage quickly, safely and under budget. Despite working in extremely dangerous conditions, 1.8 million tons of debris was removed in nine months without a single fatality or even serious injury. This Herculean task came in $1.4 billion under budget and was accomplished by paying a prevailing wage that attracted a highly- skilled workforce. New York’s experience after the destruction wrought by the terrorist attack of September 11th is that Davis-Bacon was essential to the swift, high quality and safe clean up of the World Trade Center Site.
The persistent poverty and the low quality of the housing stock along the Gulf Coast aggravated the damage Hurricane Katrina inflicted on the Southeast. Skilled trades-people and high-quality construction are essential to the rebirth of the region. Since many of the people who suffered the devastation of Katrina and subsequent flooding will be the workers hired to rebuild, it is imperative that the Federal Government set the standard by ensuring high-quality construction and adequate wages in the Southeast’s renewal. In addition, payment of the prevailing wage is the only way to attract the highly- skilled trades-people capable of quickly rebuilding the communities affected by the Hurricane. Without prevailing wages, the Gulf Coast will be at a competitive disadvantage in attracting the highly-mobile workforce that it desperately needs to rebuild its ravaged cities and towns.
Based upon New York’s experience after September 11th and the Gulf Coast’s need for quality construction and competitive wages to rebuild its ravaged infrastructure, I urge you to reconsider your repeal of the Davis-Bacon Act.
Michael R. Bloomberg
Edward Skyler/Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
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