The Northern Wisconsin Building Trades Council has been working with city officials in Superior to strengthen the current Responsible Bidders Ordinance stronger, and the city council has adopted changes that will help.
With Project Labor Agreements outlawed as part of sweeping anti-worker legislation under the Walker Administration in 2017, RBOs are the next best thing to provide protection for taxpayers on public works projects, says Kyle Bukovich, president of the NWBTC. He believes this is the only RBO in the state.
“The biggest change is that when a general contractor or construction management firm is administrating the contract, they have to make sure all the contractors abide by the ordinance,” Bukovich said.
Under the previous ordinance, a contractor that hadn’t disclosed past issues with accusations around employee violations was able to do work on the new fire hall. “At that time we were asked by Mayor Jim Paine to look at the ordinance and see what needed to be changed,” Bukovich said.
If a contractor misclassifies workers or isn’t up-to-date on federal or state laws such as workers compensation and unemployment insurance, that’s on the general contractor under the new ordinance. “This ensures that the contractors doing public works projects are following all the state and federal laws,” Bukovich said.
In addition, there are changes in language around apprenticeship requirements to help ensure that contractors doing business with the city on public works projects are helping provide a pathway to a career, Bukovich said.
Other language in the ordinance is meant to ensure that contractors on the project have done at least one other public works project that included a scope of work similar to the project they’re bidding on, and that was at least 50 percent of the new project’s size or value. “This helps ensure that they have access to all the necessary equipment, organizational capacity and technical competence to perform the work properly,” Bukovich said.
Bukovich said it’s possible Wisconsin Gov. Evers could enact a statewide Responsible Bidders rule, which would be a step forward after the lean Walker years. “People aren’t quite ready for a prevailing wage yet,” Bukovich said.