Modern Union FAQs

See how building and construction labor unions continue to uplift workers and communities.

What is Prevailing Wage?


What is Prevailing Wage?

Prevailing Wage is a pay standard for certain workers in situations where state money is used to fund the project. For example, state-funded projects can include the construction of highways, roads, schools, parks and wastewater-treatment facilities. The policy states that workers must be paid the same wages for similar work in the same county. This means that if a bricklayer in Minneapolis makes $25 per hour, a contractor must also pay a bricklayer at least $25 per hour for a government contract job in Bloomington, as it’s the prevailing wage for that county.

In establishing Prevailing Wage minimum standards, contractors bidding on public works projects must focus on productivity, efficiency, and quality without lowering the rate of pay earned by their workers.

Prevailing Wage is a product of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, a law that defines the limits surrounding government contracts and how the men and women working on those contracts must be compensated. The law was passed to prevent employers from using unskilled workers that can threaten the overall safety of a project, but it also protects the economic stability of an area by preventing the influx of cheap labor that can drag wages down and send ripples through local economies.

Minnesota’s unions proudly support Prevailing Wage and the structural, personal and economic stability that it produces.

Learn more about how Prevailing Wage plays a role in the lives of Minnesotans with these related stories: