You can read all about the Fed's perception of fair wages at: http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-sca.htm. Short story -- the Dept of Labor generates a Register of Wage Determinations that are contract specific and list the minimum wage that a worker has to be paid for certain contracted positions including Archaeologist. In a recent wage determination for Greenlee County the archaeological wage determinations are:
Archaeological Technician I - $15.21/hour
Archaeological Technician II - $17.00/hour
Archaeological Technician III - $21.82/hour
If you are a tech or crew chief, do you get paid that much?
On top of that, these occupations are to receive additional benefits: $606.67/month for health and welfare and a minimum of 10 paid holidays per year. Oh yeah, and overtime over 40 hours of work too.
Get that too?
So, here's the catch, the loophole if you will....
The 1965 law intended to set living wages for a broad list of occupations. This act, as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act, both viewed as fundamentally anti-business, were significantly weakened in the 80s and 90s. The most damaging to field archaeologists was the definition of an exempt employee. Adapted from DOL's website: