Effusing with altruistic intentions, in 1965 the United States Congress passed the Service Contract Act, ostensibly to assure that service employees were provided with minimum wages and benefits. It was felt that this lowest scale of workers, used by private contractors on federal projects, had slipped through the coverage extended to other employees by the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act and the 1936 Walsh-Healy Public Contracts Act. The question being asked today is how well has the Service Contract Act fulfilled its purpose?
Almost from the day of its enactment, problems concerning wage determinations, the rapid turnover and rebidding of contracts, and a precise definition of who constitutes a service worker led to amendments of the Act in 1972 and 1976. In The Service Contract Act of 1965: Time to Revise or Repeal, Beverly Hall Burns provides a legalistic analysis of the Act, its history, the deficiencies that plague it and court cases which have sprung from it. After a thorough evaluation of a piece of legislation still avidly supported by the AFL-CIO, the author concludes that the Act "must either be repealed... or completely overhauled to deal with the multitude of problems it has created."