Minn. Passes Responsible Contracting Law
June 9, 2014
|New Minnesota law requires all contractors bidding on public projects verify that they obey labor law.
Minnesota Democrats and Republicans, unions and employers alike are in agreement that when it comes to taxpayer-funded construction projects, contractors must obey the law.
A “responsible bidder” bill was signed into law May 23 by Gov. Mark Dayton, requiring all contractors bidding on public jobs to comply with workplace laws and regulations, including workers’ compensation, wage and hour and overtime pay.
The bill was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of the Minnesota legislature with support from both parties.
“This is a good example of common sense legislation,” said Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council Business Manager Dan McConnell, a member of Local 292. “Just like in any field of work, there are standards that should be met.”
Under the bill, contractors hoping to work on taxpayer funded projects will have to submit a signed statement during the bidding process verifying that they have not violated state or federal labor laws.
“Contractors need to understand that just choosing the lowest bidder is not enough anymore and there will be sanctions if new rules aren’t followed,” said Sheet Metal Workers Local 10 Political Director Peter Parris.
The St. Paul-based labor blog Union Advocate points to recent scandals over public construction projects manned by law-breaking contractors:
In 2012 state taxpayers backed a major construction project on the North Hennepin Community College campus in Brooklyn Park. The project was rife with wage-and-hour violations, according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.
The agency collected $6,847 in back wages for five employees of B & D Plumbing and Heating after the contractor violated apprenticeship rules. Marbella, another contractor on the project, paid the DLI $54,000 after misclassifying its workers and underreporting their hours. And Beck Drywall paid $14,731 in back wages owed to eight employees not paid for their overtime hours.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed similar legislation into law back in April, preventing contractors found guilty of breaking the law from receiving contracts from the state.
The legislation takes effect Jan. 1. 2015.