Labor unions in Illinois are furious Gov. Bruce Rauner changed a law that would have tied prevailing wage rates to union contracts. But one builders' group in the state says making work more expensive also makes is more scarce.
Alicia Martin with the Associated Builders and Contractors in Illinois said the organization did a study a few years ago that showed prevailing wage rates added about $1 billion to the cost of building schools in Illinois over a decade.
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"Each year $2.9 billion in school construction expenditures are subject to Illinois' prevailing wage laws," Martin said. "From 2002 to 2011 this amounted to over $29 billion. In absence of prevailing wage (our study) estimated Illinois taxpayers could've saved $158 million each of the past 10 years."
Martin said that's why she's happy to see the governor change a proposed law that would have set prevailing wage rates based only on union contracts. "For construction, 86.8 percent of the U.S. workforce does not belong to a union," Martin said.
The governor added a number of technical changes, including requirements that allow cities or counties to determine for themselves what their prevailing wage should be.
Gov. Rauner said having a new state law that sets prevailing wages would take too much power away from local governments, and was an unconstitutional shift of power to Springfield.
Martin added that anytime you make the cost of projects more expensive, there will be fewer projects.
Illinois' AFL-CIO President Mike Carrigan said Gov. Rauner is turning his back on all workers in the state with he amendatory veto on the prevailing wage law.
Lawmakers can try and overturn the governor's changes later this year.