To give organized labor a fair chance when bidding for government contracts, federal law requires all employers performing federal contracts to pay prevailing wages to their workers. This ensures that nonunion employers cannot gain an unfair bidding advantage by paying wages far below the union rate and passing the savings on to the government in the form of lower bids.
Virtually all federal expenditures in the private sector are covered by prevailing wage provisions. The main statutes in this area are the Davis-Bacon Act, governing federal construction contracts; the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act, governing contracts to provide services to the federal government; and the Walsh-Healey Act, governing the manufacturing of goods for the government. There is additional information on federal prevailing wage law.