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How Prevailing Wage Rates Are Determined

Wage and Hour: Prevailing Wage 

      Annual Surveys
BOLI uses data collected from an annual survey to set the state prevailing wage rates.  The agency sends wage surveys to contractors and subcontractors in all 14 regions of the state to find out what they are paying to different types, or classifications, of workers.  If the survey results do not provide enough information to determine the prevailing wage rates, then the agency considers other information, including prevailing wage rates determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.  ORS 279C.800; ORS 279C.815

Wage Rates and Work Classifications
The prevailing practice of an industry determines how work is classified.  Wage rates for each classification are    listed  as a base rate and an hourly fringe rate, and it is the combination of these two amounts that must be paid to the worker.  Rates are determined for a number of classifications.  It is important to note that it is the work performed by the employee, not the worker’s title or qualifications that determines which classification applies.

Rate Books Published Twice Annually
BOLI publishes the state prevailing wage rates twice a year, and periodically updates them to reflect revisions to labor agreements or other changes.  These publications can be found on BOLI’s website at www.oregon.gov/boli.

State law requires public agencies to include the applicable prevailing wage rates in the contract specifications of covered projects, and requires all contractors and subcontractors to post them at all PWR job sites.  ORS 279C.830(1); ORS 279C.840(4)

Generally, the applicable prevailing wage rates are those in effect at the time the initial specifications are first advertised for bid solicitations. OAR 839-025-0020(4)

Addition of Trade Classification to the Rate Book
The PWR law requires the submission of a written request to add a trade to the prevailing wage rate determinations. Anyone may request the consideration of an additional classification by writing to the PWR Coordinator, Prevailing Wage Rate Unit, Wage and Hour Division, 800 NE Oregon Street #1045, Portland, OR 97232.  The request must include the name of the proposed trade, the minimum education required, a description of the skills required and the tools used.

Occasionally the classification process calls for a complete study of the proposed trade.  The bureau’s PWR coordinator conducts the study and makes recommendations to the commissioner.  OAR 839-025-0006

Special Wage Determinations
Sometimes public contracting agencies require the use of a trade not normally included in the wage determinations.  If a planned public works project requires a trade that does not have an established classification or rate, the public agency may submit a written request to BOLI for consideration.  This request must describe the work to be done and identify the requested trade.  If BOLI agrees that a special determination is needed, it works with the agency to conduct a wage survey.  The agency conducts the survey and submits the results to the PWR coordinator.  This data is used to help the commissioner establish the appropriate classification and rate.  OAR 839-025-0007