Illinois Prevailing Wage Updates…Yet More Changes That Hurt Contractors & Cost Taxpayers

Contributed by Jeff Risch

Once again, more changes to Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Act are underway, including…

In House Bill 5212, a public body or any other entity (i.e. an upper tier contractor) can fulfill its obligations to provide notice to contractors and subcontractors of any revisions to prevailing wage rates by including in the contract that the prevailing rate is established by the Department of Labor and available on the IDOL website. Unlike federal prevailing wage law, Illinois’ prevailing wage law allows for the wage to actually increase during a given project.  This bill essentially places all financial obligations and liabilities on the shoulders of the contractors and subcontractors. It passed in both Houses and awaits action by the Governor 

Senate Bill 2643 requires local government units to apply the “responsible bidder” requirements of the Illinois Procurement Code. This could very well be in contradiction to federal ERISA law, but that appears not to be stopping Big Labor from trying to push this amendment through.  The most troublesome requirement is that contractors must participate in a U.S. DOL approved apprentice and training program — without any clear definition of what “participation” means and excluding contractors who offer “on the job learning” or rely on the multitude of meaningful apprenticeship and training programs not approved by the U.S. DOL.   Also troubling is that this legislation requires bids to include the total number of straight-time hours to be performed on the job, identified as either “journeyperson” or “apprentice,” for each craft or type of worker or mechanic needed to execute the contract. This bill was not called for a vote in the House, but it is expected to be revisited during the veto session.  Make no mistake – this bill was created by Big Labor designed to “cut out” the non-union contractor.  

Senate Bill 3695 requires contractors to include in record keeping the gross and net wage, hourly overtime rate, fringe benefit rates, and non-union contractors to identify the sponsor and administrator of fringe benefit plans.  This bill will undoubtedly be used against contractors in the audit and investigation process.  Although the bill passed the Senate on a 30-27 vote, it was too late for the House to take it up, but it is expected to be voted in the House during the veto session.