USFS Contractors – Health & Welfare Benefits

An ad for a “Forest & Conservation Worker” — tree planting and pre-commercial thinning — in this Sunday’s The Oregonian caught my eye, not because I’m looking for work, but because of one line in the ad, after the range of hourly pay:

“Health & Welfare benefits paid at $3.81 when work performed on USFS land.”

$3.81 per hour, I presume.

Apparently the agency requires contractors to pay such benefits. However, there has been some mention on this blog that the agency doesn’t pay its season employees benefits. I’m not clear on the details of what is and isn’t paid. Can you enlighten me?

FYI, the hourly pay is listed at $14.10 to $14.94 per hour “depending on which county the work is performed.”

5 Comments

  1. This is due to the requirements of the Service Contract Act, which sets particularly wages for particular kinds of work (hence the variable wage) and requires payments en lieu of benefits, hence the $3.81. These wages and health and welfare rates are set differently in different states. This is a federal wide law relating to businesses who perform services for the federal contract. It is similar to Davis-Bacon, which applies to construction contracts, but is less well known. I find it encouraging that this add explicitly states all of this information.

  2. Temporary firefighters have access to the Federal Health Plan but, like all employees, they pay a portion of it. With the ACA, that benefit has a little less value than it used to. Other temporaries, essential to annual operations, still have no hope of any permanent status, career ladder or even promotion. I worked in one place where they told me upfront that the crew foreman was a GS-5 and everyone else is below that, no matter how much experience you have.

    Maybe this is all part of the plan to outsource the “manual labor” of on-the-ground forestry work. If it can be proven that temporaries cannot get the jobs done, the government economists will decide to outsource that work, with a continuing need for “Contract Inspectors”. It would not be a cost-saving move but, it just might result in a better “product” than the “Federal McForestry” of today’s timber projects.

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