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Mendoza Bolsters Prevailing Wage Protections For Union Construction Workers

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Illinois’ 45 billion dollar infrastructure plan is expected to attract a lot of outside contractors to help complete the work. But union worries over whether those contractors will pay the required salaries has spurred action from the Comptroller’s office.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza said she hasn’t seen a capital plan like the one state lawmakers approved this year in nearly two decades. With all that money on the table, she said construction workers need to be given their fair share — what’s known as the prevailing wage.

Illinois already requires it for state contracts, but Mendoza signed an executive order yesterday taking it a step further. The order gives contractors a choice: pay what unions negotiate, or you won’t be paid.

“What we have the ability to do that no other state agency or no other constitutional officer has the ability to do is to withhold payment, and that is a constitutionally-given mandate that I have to abide by.”

The Comptroller’s office will also allow workers to submit complaints.

Mendoza estimates Illinois’ infrastructure plan will employ more than half a million people over its six-year span.

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.