Aftermarket

Illinois Lawmakers Back Off Prevailing Wage Expansion Proposal

January 05, 2011

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A proposal to expand Prevailing Wage laws beyond traditional employees on public works projects in Illinois has been stopped - at least for the time being.
HB 6112 was pulled from the record and the Senate Labor Committee cancelled its scheduled meeting Tuesday afternoon, Don Schaefer of the Mid-West Truckers Association said in an announcement.

A prevailing wage is defined as the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid to the majority of workers within a particular area. Prevailing wages are established by the Department of Labor & Industries, for each trade and occupation employed in the performance of public work.

Schaefer said the Illinois House had already passed HB 6112, sponsored by Sen. Bill Haine (D-Alton). That would have required that prevailing wage be paid to truck drivers who haul aggregate material (sand, dirt, gravel, asphalt, etc.) to or from the public works job site.

"HB 6112 would have, for the first time, taken prevailing wage beyond the actual jobsite," Schaefer says.

For over a decade, legislation, along with Illinois case law, has upheld that prevailing wage cannot be applied to work off of a public works jobsite, "which is why hauling of aggregate material to or from the public works project has never been included," Schaefer noted.

Organized labor claims that extending the prevailing wage off of the jobsite would have increased wages without adding to the cost of projects, but the Illinois Department of Transportation indicated that the legislation would cost the state $10 million per year. Despite the $10 million price tag, IDOT still did not oppose the bill.

Schaefer says the biggest impact of forcing prevailing wages would have been felt at the city, township and county level, and even in school districts that have already been starved of state money for public works projects.

"These local units of government would be forced to cut their scarce capital projects even further due to the higher labor costs of prevailing wage," Schaefer points out.

More info: www.mid-westtruckers.com.

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