October 03, 2011
Massachusetts DOS Releases Opinion Letter on Duration of Wage Rates for Multiyear School Bus Contracts
Filed under: News
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The Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety (DOS) issues prevailing wage schedules to cities, towns, counties, districts, authorities, and agencies of the Commonwealth for construction projects and several other types of public work. These prevailing wage schedules contain hourly wage rates that workers must receive when working on a public project.

DOS Recently Released PW-2011-01-01.06.11 on Prevailing Wages

The DOS regularly issues Prevailing Wage Opinion Letters and recently released PW-2011-01-01.06.11. This letter confirms “the duration of wage rates issued for contracts between school districts and school bus companies.”

DOS Provides Analysis of Relevant Massachusetts Law

According to the DOS, the relevant law is contained in MGL c 71, §7A. “§7A provides, in relevant part, that: ‘no contract [for the transportation of pupils] shall be awarded except upon the basis of prevailing wage rates…’ §7A further provides that ‘[P]rior to awarding a contract, the school committee…shall request the commissioner…to determine the rate of wages to be paid to each person to be employed by the bidder under said contract, and shall forward to the commissioner a list of jobs to be performed under the contract.’ Because the statute specifies that a list of all jobs shall be provided to the commissioner and included in the prevailing wage schedule, those words should be given full effect by the commissioner in applying the statute. Accordingly, the plain language of the statute directs the commissioner to set wage rates for the bus driver and any other personnel that the bidder is required to provide under the contract.”

The DOS Interprets the Phrase “Contract Term”

According to the DOS, it “interprets the phrase ‘contract term’ with respect to the plain language meaning of the term. Accordingly, if the original term of a school bus contract is, for e.g., three years, then the wage rates contained on the wage schedule for the contract are applicable to that three year term. Any extension of the original term would therefore trigger the requirement to obtain updated wage rates. This is consistent with the way awarding authorities treat renewals/options to renew.”

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