In response to working families and their unions, as well as community and religious groups and some members of Congress, President George W. Bush on Oct. 26 rescinded his executive order that allowed contractors to pay substandard wages to construction workers rebuilding Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The order, which suspended the federal Davis-Bacon Act, now will expire Nov. 8.
Activists sent more than 350,000 e-mails and letters to their representatives demanding fair wages be reinstated for the Gulf Coast, where skilled, full-time workers average less than $20,000 a year in pay.
One of Bush’s first acts after Hurricane Katrina hit was suspending Davis-Bacon. Enacted in 1931, Davis-Bacon ensures high-quality work standards and community prevailing wage requirements for federally funded rebuilding projects. A few days after suspending Davis-Bacon, Bush also suspended affirmative action rules for Katrina contractors.