Menu Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko P.C.
Protecting Employers for Over 30 Years
Office Location
St. Charles, IL Chicago, IL Office Davenport, IA Office Minneapolis, MN Office Milwaukee, WI Office
St. Charles, IL Chicago, IL Office Davenport, IA Office Minneapolis, MN Office Milwaukee, WI Office
St. Charles, IL Chicago, IL Office Davenport, IA Office Minneapolis, MN Office Milwaukee, WI Office

Is the Prevailing Wage Act Under Attack?

As you may recall from my previous articles, the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act requires employers to pay the prevailing wage rate to employees employed in any public works. Recently, many companies have received surveys from the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) asking what each company pays its workers for prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage work. Additionally, for years, IDOL investigations into violations of the Act increased and became commonplace. But it appears that such investigations have tapered off to an almost non-existent state. So what is going on with the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act? It appears that the Prevailing Wage Act is under attack and certain developments may provide an explanation why.

The apparent attack on the Prevailing Wage Act likely stems from the election of Governor Bruce Rauner, whose term began on January 12, 2015. Given the fact that the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act is overwhelmingly pro-union and a significant part of Governor Rauner's agenda is aimed at bringing business back to Illinois (with many of his specific policies considered to be anti-union), it is no surprise that Governor Rauner's agenda could have bled into the IDOL, the department responsible for enforcing the Prevailing Wage Act.

On January 23, 2015, less than two weeks on the job, Governor Rauner shook things up in the IDOL by appointing Hugo Chaviano as the department's Director. Less than six months later, the IDOL effectively froze all prevailing wage rates and the prevailing wage rates have not changed since that time (July 2015). Thereafter, many of my clients began to receive IDOL surveys requesting pay information for work performed on prevailing and private projects. Given the Governor's pro-business agenda, stance on unions, and desire to end State overspending, it seems highly likely that the IDOL is actually going to determine what the actual prevailing wage is for each county.

Historically, the IDOL has often relied on the wage and fringe benefit provisions in union collective bargaining agreements from each county to determine the prevailing wage. In fact, the Illinois legislature passed a bill (SB 2964) that would have required the IDOL to use union collective bargaining agreements in determining each county's prevailing wage rates. However, the likelihood of the IDOL determining the actual prevailing wage rate increased when Governor Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 2964.

The other interesting development is the sharp decline and near non-existence of prevailing wage investigations. Where IDOL prevailing wage investigations were hot and heavy as recently as two years ago, there has been a noticeable drop in prevailing wage investigation notices received by companies in the building and construction industry.

It is hard to confidently explain the drop in prevailing wage investigations. The IDOL has not provided an explanation for the decline, but one could safely bet that it has something to do with the new Director's (and Governor's) agenda. Perhaps it can be simply explained as the result of the Department shifting its focus to determining the appropriate prevailing wage rates. It will be interesting to see whether and to what extent the prevailing wage investigations pick back up after the Department sets new prevailing wage rates. Until that time, employers will continue to anxiously await the IDOL's next move.

Questions? Contract Attorney Ryan Young in our Chicago office at (312) 629-9300 or by email at ryyoung@wesselssherman.com

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Office Locations

140 S. Dearborn Street
Suite 404
Chicago, IL 60603

Phone: 312-629-9300
Map & Directions
Chicago, IL Office

9800 Shelard Parkway
Suite 310
Minneapolis, MN 55441

Phone: 952-746-1700
Map & Directions
Minneapolis, MN Office

1860 Executive Drive
Suite E-1
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

Phone: 262-560-9696
Map & Directions
Milwaukee, WI Office

101 West Second Street
Suite 307
Davenport, IA 52801

Phone: 563-333-9102
Map & Directions
Davenport, IA Office

Dunham Center
2035 Foxfield Road
St. Charles, IL 60174

Phone: 630-377-1554
Map & Directions
St. Charles, IL Office

Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko P.C.

Privacy Policy | Business Development Solutions by FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business.