Not unexpectedly, the Department of Labor & Industries (“DLI”) prodded and cajoled by labor interests has determined that pre?cast bridge segments, cast in a pre?cast yard, are subject to prevailing wages. DLI relied upon three factors in arriving at this conclusion: (1) the bridge segments are “sophisticatedly” engineered and ultimately their use is “complex”, (2) the installation task of tying the rebar required “sophisticated skill”, and (3) that the tasks required to build the segments was “beyond a simple repetitive work”.
This decision will obviously have ramifications on Washington’s tax payers. Particularly when this state is in need of transportation improvements, reducing the buying power of tax payers dollars for transportation seems to make little sense. We can expect that based on its ruling in this case, DLI will expand its ruling to T-bulb girders for pre?cast bridges, detention ponds and perhaps even sophisticated electrical and utility manholes.
Incidentally, the general contractor in this case was not assessed prevailing wages because the assistant director found that its own Department was estopped (precluded) from taking any compliance action in this matter. The pre?caster had relied on a Department statement that the fabricated pre?cast rate of pay was the appropriate rate of pay and the Department told the pre?caster it would contact the pre-caster if that rate of pay was inappropriate. Apparently, relying on the estoppel arguments that were espoused in Silverstreak v. Dept. of L&I, 159 Wn. 2d 868, 154 P. 3d 891 (2007) The Department did not retroactively assess the prevailing wage rate, we can expect in future instances that the Department will not be so charitable.