Building Trades Unions Combine Efforts to Pass Responsible Contractor Legislation

When it comes to public construction projects in Minnesota, the law says that the lowest responsible bidder gets the job. What constitutes a “responsible bidder” wasn’t clearly defined in the law, however.

Too often, unscrupulous contractors skirt the law to win bids on taxpayer-funded projects. During the recent legislative session, the unions of the Minnesota Building & Construction Trades spearheaded an effort to rectify this, culminating in passage of a bill establishing criteria that contractors must meet when they submit bids to state or local governments.

A bi-partisan effort, with authors from both the Democrats and Republicans, the bill passed the House 84-38 and the Senate 59-0 and was signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton.

“The Trades were frustrated that unscrupulous bidders were being awarded public contracts on all sorts of jobs,” said Kyle Makarios, director of Government Affairs for the Regional Council of Carpenters and leader of the lobbying effort. “We put our heads together to come up with a mechanism to fix the problem.