Mothership: New Labor Requirements in so-called Human Infrastructure Bill
Friday, November 5, 2021
Section: Legislative Update

Congressional Democrats continue to take things out and put new things into their AGC-opposed(link is external) human infrastructure bill—formally titled the Build Back Better Act. But one thing remains consistent: labor provisions impacting the construction industry remain at the forefront of their agenda. The latest iteration of the bill includes numerous pro-unionizing provisions and preferences to unions through new labor enforcement and penalties.

At the moment, provisions of note include:

  • PRO Act-like provisions through the creation of civil monetary penalties up to $100,000 for Unfair Labor Practice violations as well as permitting civil penalties to be assessed on officers and directors of employers
  • Massive new financial penalties for some safety and employment law violations. Penalties of federal overtime and minimum wage requirements in the Fair Labor Standards Act increased to $20,740 per violation. Violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act could see a five-fold increase amounting to a $700,000 penalty.
  • Budgets for federal labor agencies will see a nearly $2 billion funding boost for enforcement and enforcement-related activities which will likely lead to a significant increase in the number of investigators. Agencies seeing a increase include the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well as the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs.
  • In another first, the bill would favor labor unions through the tax code by expanding prevailing wage requirements and registered apprenticeship requirements for construction projects taking advantage of clean energy tax credits. This could result in private construction facing requirements that’s never been imposed before.

Finally, the proposal includes funding boosts for workforce, education and training programs to encourage reskilling and upskilling of workers. Programs seeing boosts include federal Career and Technical Education and funding to encourage apprenticeship programs among others. AGC will continue to closely monitor this process and advocate for the construction industry’s interests in this bill.