Prevailing Wage Ordinance 18-1604 Update

Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. - Illinois Chapter, along with several other Associations, actively opposed the passage of the Cook County Prevailing Wage Ordinance 18-1604:  Click Here for the final version.  After the ordinance passed, ABC - Illinois Chapter formed a coalition to have the ordinance amended. Although a repeal would be best, given the political climate in Cook County, we think a complete repeal is highly unlikely.   

The ordinance is incredibly complicated and exposes unassuming property owners to many hidden additional costs as well as potential fines for noncompliance if they aren’t aware the ordinance is in effect in their job-site location.   Obviously, any potential investors will look elsewhere for opportunities and contractors who live, work and have their businesses in Cook County will be impacted as well.  The ordinance will definitely create a negative impact on the ability of Cook County communities to recruit businesses and spur development. Upon passage, the commissioners agreed to create a “task force to make the bill better”.   ABC member Nick Dubak ( a Merit Shop Electrical Contractor in Cook County) tried to get appointed to the task force but was not successful. However, he was invited to attend their most recent meeting the week of June 11th.  He asked the task force to consider negotiating some of the items in the ordinance to make it more equitable for property and business owners in Cook County.  Needless to say, Nick had done his research and the members of the task force were not expecting his presentation.  We believe the task force was only meeting to satisfy the ordinance requirement and that there was no intention of changing anything.  There were three items some of the task force members challenged and they were in the areas of: safety, living wage vs. prevailing wage and cost of labor vs. materials i.e., labor costs are “minimal” compared to the materials cost.   No amendments were discussed during this meeting and a follow up meeting of the task force was scheduled for July 30th.

ABC members Nick Dubak and Pete Sampson along with myself and our Chief Counsel, Jeff Risch attended the July 30th (and to my knowledge final) hearing of the Cook County Prevailing Wage Ordinance Task Force.   As you can imagine, the meeting was similar to the first; there will be no amendments or changes to the ordinance even after additional testimony from business owners and local elected officials about the devastating impact this legislation will have on communities in Cook County.  It was made clear the task force was only meeting to discuss implementation, not changes, to the ordinance.   Again, despite testimony of the devastating impact this legislation will have on Cook County communities from multiple business owners, mayors and other local elected officials, the Chair of the Task Force, Commissioner Tobolski reiterated they will continue to work with all involved to make sure the ordinance is ready for implementation September 1, 2018. 

There was plenty of representation from labor in attendance: IBEW, Operators Local 150, two Carpenters Union representatives and the Chicago Federation of Labor, to name a few.  Also in attendance was the Democratic Candidate for Cook County Assessor, Fritz Kaegi who spoke toward the end of the meeting. He commented that this ordinance is very complicated and it will be very expensive to implement, this gives a little hope. There are no provisions in the ordinance that defines the funding mechanism to pay for the implementation of the ordinance, the consequences of a violation or due process should a violation be issued. We are in the process of arranging a time to meet with Mr. Kaegi’s Chief of Staff in the near future and will keep you updated. 

In the meantime, we will continue working with our coalition of pro-business organizations for solutions.  We cannot continue to lose out to Indiana and surrounding counties and allow Cook County to continue its downward economic downward spiral. Click here for the Cook County Commissioners contact information and voice your concerns regarding Cook County Prevailing Wage Ordinance 18-1604

 

Alicia Martin
President
Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. - Illinois Chapter

Elisa Fox