City of Cincinnati, labor group win key lawsuit over contracting

By Chris Wetterich
Jan 5, 2018, 2:57pm

Under federal law, it is OK for the city of Cincinnati to require bidders on contracts to have apprenticeship programs and health and retirement plans, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled, a major victory for Cincinnati City Council Democrats and the Laborers International Union, which pushed for the requirements.

The so-called “responsible bidder” ordinance has been the subject of lawsuits and long-running disputes between council’s progressive and conservative members since it was enacted in 2013.

In the case, Allied sued the city. A U.S. District Court judge ruled against the city but was reversed on appeal.

(Read More)

City of Berkeley Enacts First of Its Kind Wage Theft Prevention Ordinance

By Valerie Gotten – Jul 20, 2016

BERKELEY, Calif. /California Newswire/ – Last night, the City of Berkeley approved a first-of-its-kind local ordinance aimed at preventing wage theft on local construction projects, Smart Cities Prevail announced today.

Authored by Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, co-sponsored by a majority of the Council and supported by construction industry trade associations and workers’ rights groups, the measure requires that developers and builders certify that all contractors performing work on large projects have complied with state wage and hour laws as a condition of winning a certificate of occupancy from the city.

“Enforcing wage laws is especially difficult in the construction industry, because unscrupulous contractors who cheat workers in order to win bids on large projects find ways of disappearing after the work is done,” said Smart Cities Prevail Policy Director Scott Littlehale. “By expanding transparency and accountability BEFORE a project is complete, Berkeley has taken an important step towards preventing wage theft and leveling the playing field for honest construction businesses competing for this work.”

(Read More)

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.

Stalemate at Metropolitan Sewer District – Ohio

At $3.2 billion and an estimated 15- to 20-year time frame for completion, Cincinnati’s project to retrofit and replace its sewers is one of the most expansive in the city’s history. But the sewer project, which is part of a mandate from the federal government, is now facing major hurdles as the city and county dispute how contracts for the project should be awarded and whether the government should be more involved in dictating how contractors train their employees.

Most recently, the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners put an unprecedented funding hold on all sewer projects until Cincinnati changes its “responsible bidder” law, which City Council unanimously passed in June 2012 and modified in May this year.

(Read More)