Trump Continues to Please Unions

The Trump administration will allow prevailing wage protections for construction and other workers as part of its $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending plan. Prevailing wage is oftentimes referred to as “union scale” because it is the wages union members receive on construction projects. Prevailing wage can be as much as 22% above market rate. For those keeping score at home 22% of $1.5 is $330 billion. A lot more infrastructure could be built with the extra $330B saved by not using prevailing wage.

Trump’s infrastructure plan will be paid for by a mix of public and private dollars through public-private partnerships on road, railway, port, and school building and repair projects. Accordingly, questions have been raised about whether prevailing wages would apply since private dollars are involved.

The administration has said it must get bipartisan support for this plan. To me, that’s code for the plan must involve prevailing wage. Since union construction companies are much more prepared to pay prevailing and complete the burdensome recordkeeping that goes along with it, I suspect Trumps infrastructure plan will be a windfall for union construction companies.  

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers throughout the U.S.A. dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt at (614) 843-3041 or emailing him at