New Prevailing Wage Law Effective in Oregon

On June 7, 2011, Oregon’s governor signed SB 178 into law. A copy of the bill is available for review here. The bill amends Oregon’s existing prevailing wage laws, codified at ORS 279C.800 et seq. The changes were effective on June 7, 2011. While SB 178 makes a number of housekeeping amendments to the prevailing wage statutes, the bill also includes some substantive changes as well. The biggest change concerns public works contracts that are subject to federal prevailing wage rates.

For public works contracts advertised on or after June 7, 2011, agencies must now specifically require in the contract that the general contractor pay the higher of the applicable state or federal prevailing rate of wage to all workers. Previously, the agency was only required to identify which rate was higher. In addition, the bill requires that “every contract and subcontract must provide that workers on the public works must be paid not less than the higher of the applicable state or federal prevailing rate of wage.” This provision essentially requires the general contractor to ensure that its obligation “flows down” to any subcontractors on the project.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has adopted temporary rules to implement SB 178. A copy of those temporary rules is available for review here.