WASHINGTON, August 7 – Sen. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed an opinion by the Vermont attorney general that could substantially increase wages for workers on Vermont construction projects funded by the federal economic stimulus program.
“As the stimulus package works to rebuild our infrastructure, roads and bridges and create new jobs, it is important that those jobs pay a living wage,” Sanders said. “I’m glad that the attorney general upheld the state law that says construction companies in Vermont need to pay the most up-to-date prevailing wage. Construction workers have a right to earn a fair wage for their labor.”
Sanders, a member of the U.S. Senate labor committee, had urged Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell to ensure Vermont workers are not penalized by outdated wage schedules that stagnated under the Bush administration. Sanders wrote to Sorrell in support of the state Legislature’s efforts to assure that contractors on economic stimulus construction projects pay fair wages.
The attorney general yesterday concluded that the Vermont Legislature may set wages for economic stimulus projects that are higher than those set by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Studies have demonstrated that Vermont’s wage schedules are out of date for federal construction contractors under the Davis-Bacon Act.
The Congressional Research Office told Sanders that U.S. Labor Department calculations were more than a decade out of date for about half of Vermont. The so-called “prevailing wage” was less than Vermont’s minimum wage is almost one-third of the state.