To secure to each labourer the whole product of his labour, or as nearly as possible, is a most worthy object of any good government.
Abraham Lincoln, 1847
President Lincoln rightly believed that workers should get paid what they earn. But as many of us know, stealing money from workers on government contracts by underpaying them below the prevailing wage is often the industry standard.
When unions and their members learn of prevailing wage theft, in response, one of two well-intentioned but futile actions usually are taken. They start a very public protest campaign – either in the newspapers or by physically protesting at the jobsite/headquarters of the offending company. Or, they file a complaint with the Department of Labor. Most times, neither action works. Trying to shame a shameless employer who didn’t pay people properly in the first place does not work. And, in this government-shutdown, low-morale, underfunded era, the Department of Labor’s resources are so strapped that it often can’t force the bad actors in to compliance.