Responsible Bidding
Some think that Responsible Bidding is just a union issue that the building trades push to get an advantage in the bidding process. The reality is that the word union does not appear anywhere in a Responsible Bidder Ordinance. Any contractor can meet the requirements - the idea is to make the process fair to all law-abiding contractors.

If the unions are indeed the ones promoting the implementation of Responsible Bidder Ordinances, it’s not about getting an advantage, it’s about fairness. You can certainly understand the frustration felt by a contractor - union or non - that loses a bid because of the competition’s willingness to break laws; especially on publicly funded work.

“Responsible Bidding ensures public dollars go to contractors, union and non-union, that adhere to a set of accountability measures and bring well-trained employees to the job.” - Illinois State Senator Terry Link

In sum, it’s not a union issue, it’s a fairness issue. Still not convinced? Let’s explore further.

Appreticeship Programs
Bipartisan Support
Contractor Support

Appreticeship Programs

This is the clause in the Responsible Bidder Ordinance that many think excludes non-union contractors. The apprenticeship clause will typically read something to the effect of:

“The bidder must participate in an applicable apprenticeship and training program approved by and registered with the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training.”
The preceding is not a mandate for using organized labor for the project to which it applies. Apprenticeship programs are recognized by the United States Department of Labor, not labor unions.

It is true that nearly all labor unions have apprenticeship programs that meet the qualifications - most have for years because they and their signatory contractors recognize the benefits of a properly trained work force. But any private company can offer them. All apprenticeship programs are privately run but government recognized and overseen.

See the “Apprenticeship Info” section of this website for more on Apprenticeship Programs.

Bipartisan Support

There is support for Responsible Bidding on both sides of the aisle because in the end, they know it’s about fairness and value in public construction, not union vs. non-union. RBO’s are widely viewed as simply being good government policy, not a partisan issue.

Here are what a few Illinois Republicans have said about Responsible Bidding:

“Citizens get the best value when those applying for public work compete fairly and agree to follow all relevant regulations.”
    - Illinois State Representative Robert Pritchard

“In passing this ordinance, not only will a higher quality product be offered, the safety of the community will be ultimately increased.”
    - Illinois State Representatives Michael McAulliffe, Bill Mitchell, Don Moffitt, JoAnn D. Osmond, and Angelo Saviano

Contractor Support

Contrary to a perception of Responsible Bidding simply being a union issue, or just more restrictions and hurdles for contractors, we have received support from a variety of employer associations. These are groups of contractors that realize the benefits of achieving success based on their efficiency, not their willingness to cut corners:

» Illinois Small Pavers Association
» Lake County Contractors Association
» Contractors’ Association of Will & Grundy Counties
» Underground Contractors Association of Illinois
» National Electrical Contractors Association - Eastern Illinois Chapter
» Finishing Contractors Association of Illinois

Aside from these written endorsements from Contractors Associations, a common theme we hear from contractors is that the presence of an RBO, and the level playing field that it creates, encourages them to be more willing to bid on that work. The best contractors like to see RBO’s in place, which, in the end, this provides a more competitive bidding landscape and a better overall value.


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