The Davis‐​Bacon Act: Let’s Bring Jim Crow to an End

January 18, 1993 • Briefing Paper No. 17

The Davis‐​Bacon Act, which requires that federal construction contractors pay their workers “prevailing wages,” was passed by Congress in 1931 with the intent of favoring white workers who belonged to white‐​only unions over non‐​unionized black workers. The act continues to have discriminatory effects today by favoring disproportionately white, skilled and unionized construction workers over disproportionately black, unskilled and non‐​unionized construction 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. President‐​elect Clinton and Labor Secretary‐​designate Reich should therefore exercise their power of “executive review” and refuse to enforce Davis‐​Bacon.

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