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New labor rule could raise wages for construction workers on federal projects

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) -- Vice President Kamala Harris is in Philadelphia on Tuesday to make an announcement about a new initiative for workers and highlight the Biden administration's investments in infrastructure.

Ahead of her speech at Glaziers Local 252, Harris said she will discuss changes to labor rules that could give higher wages to construction workers on federal projects.

Harris will say that the Labor Department has provided the first update in decades to the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, a law that requires the payment of prevailing local wages on public works.

The new rule is something of a return to the past in that it will use the definition of prevailing wage that the Labor Department previously used from 1935 to 1983, likely raising the hourly earnings of contractors and subcontractors.

More than 1 million construction workers with jobs on roughly $200 billion worth of federally supported projects will benefit, the Democratic vice president's office said in an emailed statement.

The new rule "will mean thousands of extra dollars per year in workers' pockets to help put a down payment on a home, save for retirement, or simply have more breathing room," the statement said.

While workers would earn more money, critics such as the Associated Builders and Contractors say the new rule will make construction projects more expensive for taxpayers.

The White House has been targeting Philadelphia and Pennsylvania throughout 2023.

Tuesday was the vice president's second visit in three months.

Harris will also get an update on the construction of the permanent lanes along I-95 following the June collapse.

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