GUAM CONTRACTORS FACE NEW WAGE SCALE

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To apply to federal or military projects

By Tiffany Sukola HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, April 22, 2010) –

AS A result of recent federal legislation, local contractors will soon be required to use a new wage determination scale for workers employed for military and federally-funded construction projects.

The wage system would be implemented once the required pay study is completed by summer.

According to Terrence Trotter, district director of the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour division, the Davis-Bacon wage rate will help maintain a fair level of competition among companies bidding for military and federally-funded construction projects.

While the Davis-Bacon wage determination scale has been widely used in the mainland U.S., this is the first time Guam contractors will be required to pay construction workers at the new wage rate, according to industry officials. Contractors currently use the local prevailing wage rate when paying workers.

During a Guam Contractors Association meeting at the Hyatt Regency Guam yesterday, Trotter said the federal labor department will be conducting a wage survey to determine the Davis-Bacon wage rate for Guam.

While the department is currently in the process of preparing to mail the survey to Guam contracting companies, results from the pay study should be released by August.

According to GCA president James Martinez, a Davis-Bacon wage survey has never been done on Guam. The survey will help local companies finally get a fair assessment of what the various trades are paying compared to the Guam Department of Labor’s prevailing wage rate.

"The survey will show what workers are currently making," Martinez said. "We will be able to get a more accurate picture of wages because there has never been a true reading."

Martinez said the survey will look at construction worker’s wages in the various trades. However, it will only count the wages of U.S. workers and not H-2B workers.

Trotter said the Davis-Bacon wage determination has been in effect in the mainland U.S. since the early 1930s. It will now be applied to Guam in preparation for the impending military buildup.

Trotter said implementing the Davis-Bacon wage rate on Guam will prevent contractors from winning bids because they took advantage of cheap labor. He said companies could have money withheld if they are found to not be in compliance with the new rate.

An important thing for Guam contractors to keep in mind, he said, is that the primary contractor is also responsible for making sure their subcontractors are in compliance as well.

Martinez said since the Davis-Bacon wage determination is new to Guam companies, contractors may have questions as to how the new wage determination will work.

In an effort to educate Guam contractors on the Davis-Bacon wage determination, U.S. labor officials will be on island next month to host a three-day prevailing wage conference.

According to Trotter, the conference, which begins May 17, will give contractors an overview of the survey process and how to participate in the collection of the data. Compliance principles and enforcement processes will also be taught to participants he said.

Guam labor officials will also be present to discuss the H-2B visa program.

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