Augusta, Maine March 24, 2015 – Maine Chapters of the Associated General Contractors and Associated Builders and Contractors are working together to spread the message about a United States Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) Wage Survey. Every three years or more the WHD conducts a wage survey in each state and Maine’s survey is happening now with an April 30, 2015 response deadline.
“Survey participation is low and the results of this survey will be used until the next survey to set baseline wages on federally funded projects. The intent of the Davis-Bacon is to protect local workers that cannot happen if Maine contractors ignore the survey,” cited Matt Marks, AGC Maine CEO.
Once the data is collected, the WHD will compile the data by job classification in each county in the following divisions: heavy, highway, and building. Contracting agencies use wage determinations to set the hourly wage for each classification. Contractors are required to comply. The practical implementation of this system is not simple. For example, if an equipment operator uses a roller in the morning and then operates a loader in the afternoon those can be two different classifications and thus two different wages that are required to be paid.
“The US Government has continued to split out job classifications which makes it more difficult for contractors to provide what the WHD considers a “sufficient” amount of data for each classification in each county and each division. That has placed a greater burden on contractors to report more jobs than ever before, not to mention the additional administrative costs associated with complying with the certified payroll requirements” explained Marks.
Contrary to popular belief and perhaps the most critical piece of information for contractors to consider when responding to these surveys is that contractors big and small, generals and subs, can report ANY PROJECT, not only jobs in which Davis Bacon wages were required. “The WHD will pull data from other counties, states, or regions if they do not collect enough data here in Maine. Our teams are here to answer questions and provide support to the industry,” said President and CEO of the Maine Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors Hope Perkins.
Contractors who participate in the survey are advised to keep copies of the data submitted for comparison to the data accepted and used by the WHD in their determinations. By increasing the amount of responses and data provided, Maine contractors are likely to see wage determinations that more closely reflect local wages and avoid issues in coming years. During the last survey rural parts of the state faced significant differences between similar classifications. For example, the wage rate for an excavator operator in Aroostook County was $19.42 while the loader operator wage was set at $46.51. One of the highest wage rates set in the last survey in Maine was a painter at $54.91. Large bridge painting jobs that require additional risks and challenges are believed to have influenced that rate.
“The best advise I can give to Maine contractors is that spending the time and resources now to provide as much data from any and all projects to WHD during this survey will help ensure the survey accurately reflects wages being paid in each county across the state. Another important thing to understand is that the survey is the best way affect meaningful change in a broken system. It can take years to correct the problems that arise due to lack of data. In the meantime, highly skilled positions are often being compensated equal to or less than other less skilled positions on current and future projects. These wage disputes are frustrating for everyone involved and often result in driving up the cost of state and federal projects. I do not believe that was ever the intent of the Davis-Bacon Act,” said Scott Lever, AGC Maine’s Chief Legal Officer.
Contractors can learn more by going online to the website www.mainebacon.com or calling AGC Maine at 622-4741 or ABC Maine at 623-4500. A free breakfast to explain the survey process is open to all contractors on April 2, 2015 at 8:00 AM at AGC Maine’s office located at 188 Whitten Road in Augusta. Please RSVP online at mainebacon.com.
For More Information
Contact: Matthew Marks