Monday, August 9, 2010

Prevailing Wages May Now Be Included by Reference Only in Bidding and Contract Documents

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) announced on August 9, 2010 that public agencies may now comply with the requirement that prevailing wage rates be included in bidding and contract documents by including L&I's website address for prevailing wage rates.  

Major Policy Shift:  This new policy represents a significant departure in L&I's historical interpretation of RCW 39.12.030 in which they have previously argued the law required including a complete hard copy listing of the prevailing wage rates.  

Easy and Green:  The new interpretation of RCW 39.12.030 will make bidding public works projects easier and greener.  It will have a large impact especially on small projects where the prevailing wage rates were often many times longer than the actual specifications.

What Must Be Included?  In making this additional option available for public agencies, L&I issued the following instructions for what public agencies should include in the bidding and contract documents if they choose to include the URL to L&I's prevailing wage rate pages instead of including a hard copy of the wage rates in the documents.  I have also added my comments to some of the items:
  • Date:  Identify the exact wage publication date to use.  This is noted on L&I's website as "Effective Date" which is actually more accurate than "wage publication date."  Wages become effective 30 days after publication by L&I.   Remember that prevailing wages are effective as of the bid submittal deadline.  L&I publishes wages twice a year.
  • County:  State the county in which the public works project is located.
  • Copy Available for Viewing:  Specify that a copy of the prevailing wage rates is available for viewing at the public agency's office.
  • Rates Mailed Upon Request:  Note that the public agency will mail a hard copy of the prevailing wage rates upon request.
  • Keep Hard Copy for the File:  Retain a printed version of the applicable prevailing wage rates as part of the records of the public works project.  This is important from both an enforcement and audit perspective.
Options:  The new policy is one option for including prevailing wages in bidding and contract documents.  Public agencies have the option of still including a hard copy of the prevailing wages instead of referencing L&I's URL.

Suggested Language:  If your agency chooses to exercise this new policy option made available by L&I, I've included below some language I wrote that you may want to consider to help you as you implement referencing L&I's website address.  Consult with your appropriate decision makers and attorneys to make sure the language meets your needs.  If you have suggested changes to the language, please contact me.
The State of Washington prevailing wage rates applicable for this public works project, which is located in ________ County, may be found at the following website address of the Department of Labor and Industries:   Based on the bid submittal deadline for this project, the applicable effective date for prevailing wages for this project is _____________. A copy of the applicable prevailing wage rates are also available for viewing at the office of the Owner, located at _____________________.  Upon request, the Owner will mail a hard copy of the applicable prevailing wages for this project.
Residential Wage Rates: If you believe your public works project is subject to residential prevailing wage rates, be aware of the provisions of RCW 39.12.030.  Regardless of whether you include the full wages or reference L&I's URL, for residential projects you must state that the project is subject to residential wage rates.  Note that if a determination is made later that the project is not subject to residential wages but to commercial construction prevailing wages, the public agency must pay the difference in the wage rates.


Dave said...

I would like to know if DORM ROOMS at WWU in Bellingham WA would fall under RESIDENTIAL Prevailing wage . Can't find anything about dorm rooms. I wouldn't think so because it is not perement housing nor does it have kitchens in everyroom. thanks

Mike Purdy said...

Dave, According to WAC 296-127-010, in order to qualify for the residential wage rates, the housing must be permanent housing, and, as you have pointed out, dorm rooms do not represent permanent housing. Here's the quote from the WAC with the other conditions as well: "Residential construction" means construction, alteration, repair, improvement, or maintenance of single family dwellings, duplexes, apartments, condominiums, and other residential structures not to exceed four stories in height, including basement, when used solely as permanent residences. It does not include the utilities construction (water and sewer lines), or work on streets, or work on other structures (e.g., for recreation and business.)" I hope this answers your question. Ultimately, the final decision is one to be made by the State Department of Labor and Industries.