From Cato Briefing Papers, 18 January 1993:
Davis-Bacon was designed explicitly to keep black construction workers from working on Depression-era public works projects. The act continues today to restrict the opportunities of black workers on federal and federally subsidized projects by favoring disproportionately white, unionized and skilled workers over disproportionately black, non-unionized and unskilled workers. Because Davis-Bacon was passed with discriminatory intent and continues to have discriminatory effects, its enforcement violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the law.
An estimated $60 billion in annual construction and maintenance work is covered by Davis-Bacon, and even more is covered by state and municipal prevailing wage legislation. Yet despite the pernicious effects of Davis-Bacon on blacks, and its blatantly discriminatory origins, civil rights activists have generally ignored or quietly supported the law. Only one of the many histories of black workers mentions the law, and then only once, and not by name. No lawsuits have been filed by civil rights groups against the law; in fact, the NAACP, among other mainstream civil rights organizations, actually supports the law because of the group’s close political alliance with organized labor. Grass-roots community activists, in contrast, generally oppose Davis-Bacon and its state and local equivalents because they reduce employment opportunities and make government efforts to help the poor far more expensive.
Read in full the Cato Institute’s Briefing Papers by David Bernstein here.
And read how Davis-Bacon affects the “Infrastructure Crisis” here.
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