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Home » Recent News » NEA and Prevailing Wage: Unions Educate the US Department of Labor 

NEA and Prevailing Wage: Unions Educate the US Department of Labor 


On December 12, the Department for Professional Employees (DPE) of the AFL-CIO hosted a meeting of the arts, entertainment, and media industry unions with the administrator of the Wages and Hours Division of the US Department of Labor (DOL) to discuss enforcement of the prevailing wage requirement in connection with direct and indirect grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). 

The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, as amended, which created the NEA and NEH, requires that performers and other professionals hired by organizations for projects assisted by NEA and NEH funding be paid the prevailing area wage for their work. However, enforcement of this rule over the past decades has been lax, with little follow-up and oversight by either the NEA/NEH as the grantors or the DOL as the enforcer. 

Working closely with the Biden administration, the DPE successfully prevailed upon the NEA and the NEH last year to incorporate the prevailing wage rule in all documentation and forms that a funding applicant would see in the process of obtaining a grant. The December 12 meeting provided an opportunity for the arts, entertainment, and media unions to educate the DOL on the various ways in which a prevailing wage is determined in different localities across the US. 

The AFM was represented by International Secretary-Treasurer Ken Shirk. Other presenters included representatives from the stagehands union, Actors Equity, the broadcasting wing of the electrical workers union, the stage directors union, AGMA, the Writers Guild of America, and SAG-AFTRA. 

(See page 3 for more details on the Federation’s efforts to collect this data from AFM locals.)