WASHINGTON — The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) announced its support of Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-Tenn.) introduction of legislation on June 2 to allow entry-level “helpers” on federal construction projects that require employers to pay prevailing wages under the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Helpers Job Opportunity Act of 2003 (H.R. 1012) was co-sponsored by Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) and Steve King (R-Iowa).

“Allowing helpers on federal construction projects gives semi-skilled workers, many of whom are trying to learn a trade and break into the construction industry, entry into the industry and helps small businesses to be competitive,” said ABC National Chairman Edward L. Rispone, a founder and chairman of the management board of Industrial Specialty Contractors in Baton Rouge, La. “Not allowing helpers on federal construction projects excludes entry-level workers from valuable job opportunities and forces small businesses to have skilled workers perform unskilled tasks.”

According to ABC, identical to legislation introduced by Norwood in 2001, the Helpers Job Opportunity Act of 2003 would require the Labor Department to recognize helpers as workers on Davis-Bacon projects rather than using the pre-1980s definition of helpers, which permits them only in limited circumstances.

Publication date: 06/23/2003