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Unions Continue to Reshape Illinois Prevailing Wage Law: New Radical Changes for 2013/2014

Contributed by Jeffrey Risch

Since 2002, Illinois’ prevailing wage law has been the target for labor unions in seeking to expand the law’s scope and application.  As a management-side labor and employment attorney dedicated to a broad spectrum of workplace laws and regulation for both union and non-union employers, I can’t think of any law that has been modified and amended more often.  Nearly every legislative session in Springfield results in some sort of revision to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA).  Even without legislative changes, absent a court order or thoughtful strategic push back, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) has and continues to come up with new administrative interpretations while enforcing the law at an all-time high (good, bad or indifferent).  Such changes and developments have caused a great deal of confusion, uncertainty and turmoil amongst responsible contractors and public representatives. 

The latest developments involve HB 922 and HB3223

HB 922, sponsored by Rep. Frances Hurley (D-Chicago) and Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), requires construction contractors to retain records under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act for five years from the date of the last payment received under the contract (instead of the current three years) and extends the right to bring legal action to a clear period of no less than five years.

HB 3223, sponsored by Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) and Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign), expands various Illinois Prevailing Wage reporting requirements, particularly against non-union contractors. Non-union contractors will now be forced to disclose fringe benefit plan documents and information under more government control and scrutiny. Also, applicable to both union and non-union contractors is a new provision requiring contractors to report net pay which means the potential public disclosure of a worker’s personal payroll deductions.  Both bills passed both chambers and await the Governor’s signature.

Unfortunately, these legislative changes will undoubtedly lead to unprecedented regulation, decreased competition in the public bidding process and increased taxpayer costs in maintaining, constructing and repairing our roads, schools, bridges and general public infrastructure.

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