Speaking to the Building Trades Legislative Conference in Washington, Kerry said his agenda for working Americans included the protection of the prevailing wage, which is the going rate for a particular job in a particular area.
Alluding to efforts by the Bush White House to cozy up to organized labor, Kerry told the group, "We're not going to let them fool the American people. They're not trimming the fat. They're cutting Davis-Bacon and we're not going to let them."
Davis-Bacon is a federal law dating back to the New Deal requiring government contractors to pay at least the prevailing wages in order to receive and maintain federal contracts. Republicans and some conservative Democrats from right-to-work states have criticized the law, saying it needlessly increases the costs of construction and keeps people who want to work from finding jobs.
The speech was delivered to the conference by satellite. Kerry underwent surgery in Boston and was unable to attend in person.