The state director of the National Federation of Independent Business says Illinois taxpayers could expect higher public works construction costs if the governor signs a measure on his desk.
If signed into law, the bill would require the Illinois Department of Labor to consider local collective bargaining rates as the area prevailing wage if those rates are already is in place for at least a third of the local workforce.
NFIB State Director Kim Maisch said doing that would leave the Department of Labor with fewer options in setting prevailing wage rates throughout the state and increase costs to businesses.
“It does not allow or give any kind of wiggle room to the Department of Labor to look at other, perhaps non-union, contractors who might be doing similar work as work being done under a prevailing wage,” she said.
In the past, she said the department simply surveyed contractors to determine the rate, though they haven’t always followed their recommendations.
Maisch said it will increase public project costs and taxpayers will get stuck with the bill.
“If it is construction, it falls under the umbrella of the prevailing wage law,” Maisch said. “And so really at the end of the day, who is footing the bill? It is the taxpayers.”
Maisch said the bill is a union response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s increased scrutiny of government contracts.
“So organized labor realized the governor was doing this and passed the bill that would put in (the) statute, no matter who the governor was, that the Department of Labor would have to accept collective bargaining agreement wage rates as the prevailing wage rates,” she said.
She said if the law is passed, it would lead to higher labor costs and higher public construction costs throughout the state.
“That is why if we (need) some flexibility in how we determine prevailing wage, we believe strongly that we would have more money available for school construction and for other types of things that clearly we don’t have the money for now,” she said.