Highway Construction Wage Survey to be conducted by NCDOT

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The Carolinas AGC and Carolinas Asphalt Pavers Association, are working with the NCDOT and SCDOT to address Davis-Bacon wage determinations associated with highway projects. Beginning February 27, the NCDOT will be conducting a Highway Construction Wage Survey to determine the validity of the US Department of Labor’s recent wage determinations for North Carolina.

For an industry in survival mode for the past 4 years, eking through the worst economic environment since the great depression, the determinations are an economic body-blow to those who perform work financed with federal dollars.

The Davis-Bacon Act applies to contracts in excess of $2,000 for the construction, alteration, and/or repair of public buildings or public works, including painting and decorating, where federal dollars are in involved in the contract. The Act requires all contractors and subcontractors to pay the various classes of laborers and mechanics employed on the contracted work site, the wage rates and fringe benefits determined to be prevailing for corresponding classes of employees engaged on similar projects in the locality. In addition, the Act requires that certain labor standards provisions be specified in the contract awarded to the successful bidder. An applicable wage determination must also be included in the contract documents.

Even though many of the previous determinations were low, some of the new determinations are 200% higher and vary wildly between adjoining counties. Not only are rates substantially higher, they are now separated into multiple categories where they were previously divided into only two: rural and metropolitan. To make matters worse, the determinations do not take into account skill level/experience required for some jobs– designating higher wage rates for lower-skilled positions than for skilled positions.

The determinations forced the NCDOT to place a moratorium on lettings during December 2011 to adjust to the new wages. Contractors from all disciplines (utility, building, highway and specialty) are wrestling to comply with the determinations, paying one wage on private work and another on public projects. All this comes at a time when margins are low and contractors are doing all they can to keep overhead to an ultimate minimum.

Carolinas AGC is working to have the determinations revisited and assisting member companies to comply. On March 26, the association will conduct a webinar with Ogletree, Deakins, Labor & Employment Law Firm and representatives from the CAGC Human Resources Committee to review Davis-Bacon requirements and offering guidance on how to comply.  Read More.

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