The requirement to pay “prevailing wages” to covered workers is a perennial aspect of many types of government contracting, including construction contracts subject to the Davis-Bacon Act (“DBA”) and certain related laws (collectively referred to as the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts or “DBRA”). In recent years, Congress has also expanded the reach of prevailing wage requirements to new industries: clean energy projects seeking to take advantage of federal tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act are required to ensure that prevailing wages are paid or may be forced to forfeit valuable credits. Semiconductor manufacturers — as well as manufacturers of materials and equipment used to make semiconductors — that seek to take advantage of the incentives established by the CHIPS Act are likewise required to follow the prevailing wage requirements of the DBA.
It was in this context that the Department of Labor (“DOL”) introduced a 222-page final rule, “Updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Regulations,” that substantially rewrote the implementing regulations under the DBRA. Among other things, the final rule alters how DOL calculates the prevailing wage rates for each locality, and expands the definition of the “site of work” and categories of workers subject to the DBA. Moreover, the final rule imposes the DBA by operation of law on federal construction contracts that would otherwise be covered, but that nevertheless do not include the requisite FAR clauses and wage determinations used to inform contractors of the DBA’s requirements. The potential impact of these changes has not gone unnoticed: last month, two trade associations — the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southeast Texas, Inc. (“ABCSETX”) and the Associated General Contractors of America (“AGC”) — filed separate suits challenging multiple aspects of the final rule, including the changes to prevailing wage calculation methodology and the revised definition of the site of work. We expand on the final rule’s changes — and on the pending legal challenges — below. Continue Reading Whose Site Is It Anyway: Trade Groups Challenge DOL’s Prevailing Wage Calculation and Expanded Definition of the Site of Work Under the Davis-Bacon Act