‘Busy’ does not even begin to describe my dive schedule this summer. Most fortunately, many of my work projects have been in support of public works programs – repairs to infrastructure including dams, bridges, and barriers. Now, with these public works projects comes a Department of Labor mandate that the labor force earns the ‘prevailing wage rate’ for the given labor classification or trade. These rates are generally slightly above the local market value for the same trade – this creates an incentive for business owners to secure the highest quality workforce and strive towards quality performance, rather than compete in the more conventional cut throat musings that fuel the contractor world. This levelling of the playing field was put in full force shortly after the Great Depression with the establishment of the Davis Bacon Act of 1931.
We divers are considered in among the highest risk labor classifications – and rightfully so. I’ve been on numerous jobs that are all hinged on the diver directing the show; barges, cranes, operators, heavy machinery, and so on – all standing by with next moves hinged on the diver getting his/her job done in a timely manner and with quality results. Tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars can be on the line with a single day lost to poor performance…ccouple the fact that most work here in New England is done in the blind with zero visibility, often miserably cold, and just plain harsh operating conditions, and the diver himself must be a literal jack of all trades – I’d like to argue that a good commercial diver here in New England is worth his weight in gold…and we are compensated for it.
So, no complaints here this summer – even this entire year in fact – one thing our government has right is recognizing the value of the diver in public works projects…we’re getting white collar wages in our blue collar world.