Bush Reinstates Wages In Katrina-land

Ken AshfordDisastersLeave a Comment

A sign of a weak White House, with good results:

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was among congressmen critical of the administration’s decision to waive the requirement and who met Wednesday with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. He said Card told them the wage requirement would be reinstated Nov. 8.

"We thought it was bad policy and bad politics, and I guess they accepted our argument," King told The Associated Press. "There’s no need to antagonize organized labor."

King was part of a congressional delegation headed by Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., and Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, that met with Card.

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, President Bush suspended provisions of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which sets wages for employees on federal contracts to ensure they are not underpaid.

The administration contended the move would reduce rebuilding costs and help open opportunities to minority-owned companies, but unions and other critics said it would result in lower pay for workers.