by Diane Benjamen
March 29, 2011
Please click here to read Part 1 of this ongoing series.
In my last report, the Springfield School Board had rejected an open shop (non-union) contractor’s bid under dubious circumstances – costing the taxpayers of Springfield $125,000. After failing to get any media attention, the contractor filed a lawsuit against the school board. Now the taxpayers in Springfield will pay legal fees too.
The Springfield School Board President’s day job is Political Advisor for the AFL-CIO. He did not recuse himself from any votes on this project. Under the Freedom of Information Act, I received a letter written by a union urging the open shop contractor’s bid be rejected.
A similar situation occured in the Normal Unit 5 schools. The contractor was awarded a contract, but then under union pressure the contact was revoked. The district was sued. Using the Freedom of Information Act, I found this lawsuit cost the Unit 5 taxpayers over $35,000.
As reported, unions have used the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) to intimidate open shop contractors and bar them from government contracts. The IDOL is forced to investigate all complaints concerning violations of the Prevailing Wage Laws. Looking at the IDOL website, Government at its worst is easy to see. “Prevailing Wage” is not only a forced pay list of wages according to County, but also by Month. Wages are listed by trade, here is a partial list: click here to review.
For Illinois government contracts, Open shop contractors must agree to pay these wages just like union contractors. In Springfield, the open shop contractor was barred from receiving the contract because of accounting errors on a previous job finished 23 months previously. Clicking on the link above and reviewing the chart, errors seem inevitable.
The contractor wasn’t convicted for any violations, and additional compensation was paid for the errors. During hearings on Senate Bill 1389, the head of the IDOL, Catherine Shannon, testified that unions use her office as a tactical tool against open shop contractors. Shannon admitted that first time violations can not be disputed. But these “violations” are being used against contractors to bar them. She testified that Public Works projects should not use first time violations against any contractor. An excerpt of her testimony can be heard at: www.teapartybloom.blogspot.com
Catherine Shannon was fired the day her testimony became public. She had held the position since 2007.
This is Illinois.
Meanwhile, the Springfield School Board put another geothermal project out for bid. This time the 2 lowest bidders are open shop contractors. The School Board’s President is up for reelection on April 5th.
We will be watching.