Economics

Sen. Mike Lee Calls for Repeal of Costly and Destructive New Deal Labor Law

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In Reason's November 2010 issue we presented "14 ways to dismantle a monstrous government, one program at a time." One such program singled out for destruction was the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, a federal statute requiring all workers on federal projects costing more than $2,000 to be paid the "prevailing wage," which typically means the hourly rate set by local unions. As I explained in that story, thanks to Davis-Bacon, "for nearly 80 years, contractors working on federally funded construction projects have been forced to pay their workers artificially inflated wages that rip off American taxpayers while lining the pockets of organized labor." To make matters worse, the law's origins happen to be explicitly racist:

Davis-Bacon was born as a racist reaction to the presence of Southern black construction workers on a Long Island, New York, veterans hospital project. This "cheap" and "bootleg" labor was denounced by Rep. Robert L. Bacon (R-N.Y), who introduced the legislation. American Federation of Labor President William Green eagerly testified in support of the law before the U.S. Senate, claiming that "colored labor is being brought in to demoralize wage rates." The result was that black workers, who were largely unskilled and therefore counted on being able to compete by working for lower wages, were essentially excluded from the upcoming New Deal construction spree.

Today Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced legislation he is calling the "Davis-Bacon Repeal Act." As he explained in a statement, Davis-Bacon "crowds out low-skilled workers in the construction industry, preventing them from getting a fair shot at a job, and funnels taxpayer money to prop up big labor unions, which accrue windfall profits as Davis-Bacon removes the incentive for federal contractors to hire unskilled, non-unionized workers."

Last week Reason TV's Nick Gillespie interviewed Sen. Lee about the rise of the Tea Party faction in Congress.

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  1. It’s funny to me that the first thing the libs who want the Redskins to change their name point to is the original owners allegedly racist reasons for adopting the team name. But if you point that some policies born in the same era which they still hold dear were blatantly racist in origin, they look at you like literally crapped out of your mouth hole.

    1. In my experience, proggies are very racist, but in the paternalistic way.

      So, they want to better the wogs, but not to allow the wogs to get to uppity.

      The particular ethnic group/nationalities that comprise the set they think of as wogs varies from era to era, but the sentiment is constant.

  2. “unskilled, non-unionized workers”

    Now, that’s a weird juxtaposition of words. Like non-unionized workers are necessarily unskilled? Or Unionized workers are necessarily skilled? Ever been to the freaking post office, Damon? There you get the trifecta of unionism: overpaid, unskilled & uncaring.

    1. As the Stevedore in the Dilbert comic says, when Dilbert protests the Stevedore moving his computer to the next desk over, which will take longer than if Dilbert just did it himself :

      “Watch me not care.”

      That’s a union shop.

  3. Why do Republicans only pretend to care about minorities when they’re trying to screw over minorities?

    The DBA’s initial outcome was to exclude many blacks from the construction industry. This has been addressed in legislation under multiple administrations, and the NAACP endorsed the Act in the 90s, black interest groups and unions having formed an alliance in the time since the 1930s when unions, like everybody else, were racist against them.

    So the DBA no longer has racist outcomes or a racist purpose, and Republicans, whose major goal in life is destroying all unions, pretending to be against it because of a newfound appreciation for racism against blacks are obviously not being honest about their motives.

    1. I’m sorry, Tony. You’re on the wrong website. You’ll need to go the NationalReview.com to talk to Republicans.
      But, to answer your question – they don’t. Of course, you have to realize that minorities are frequently contractors who get squeezed out or they don’t have a relative that can get them into the right union, so they are squeezed out of jobs that are covered by DBA. And, I hope this doesn’t make your head explode, many minorities are tax payers!! Some pay a lot of tax. And, when government programs cost 3 of 4 times as much as they should, these tax paying minorities get soaked just like the tax paying whites. It’s a lot to absorb, so I’ll stop while you lie down and jerk off to your picture of Lenin.

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