Three weeks ago, you joined us in calling on Congress to restore fair wages for Gulf Coast workers by overturning President Bush's suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act. Because people of faith around the country raised a moral outcry, today we declare victory in the fight for the rights of Gulf Coast laborers! Thank you for acting.
On Sept. 8, President Bush issued an executive order suspending the application of the Davis-Bacon Act in the hurricane-ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The law requires federal contractors to pay workers the average, or prevailing, regional wage for public construction projects. Its suspension allowed contractors to pay as little as $5.15 an hour - the current federal minimum wage - for these projects.
Within two weeks of the decision, Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced legislation to reinstate the wage protections provided by the Davis-Bacon Act. Both bills were referred to congressional committees, where they have been stuck ever since. On Sept. 22, 37 moderate House Republicans wrote to President Bush asking him to restore Gulf Coast workers' rights by terminating his suspension of Davis-Bacon.
Last Thursday, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) filed a joint resolution under a little-known and never-before-used provision of the 1976 National Emergencies Act (PL 94-412). The law, which allows Congress to rescind a national emergency declaration by the president, would have required a floor vote in the House by the second week of November. Yesterday, that vote became unnecessary when the White House announced its decision to restore the full protections of the Davis-Bacon Act.
The AFL-CIO estimates people of faith and community activists sent more than 350,000 letters to lawmakers in the weeks following the president's suspension of Davis-Bacon. This groundswell of moral outrage has resulted in a direct victory for the dignity and economic livelihood of those working to rebuild their lives and their cities in the Gulf.
As Christians we believe that the economy must exist to serve the people, not the other way around. Our faith demanded that we not stand idly by while those who lost everything in the storms were thrown deeper and deeper into devastating poverty. We lifted our voices and we made a difference. Congratulations, and thank you.
I just received this email from Sojourners. Thank you so much to all those who joined in the effort to protest the suspension of the Davis-Bacon act.
Posted by Katherine Willis Pershey