Home Builders Victorious on HB2838!
Bill Ward, Executive Vice President, HBAI
Legislation holding Primary Contractors jointly liable for the wages & benefits of Subcontractor’s Employees has been held from consideration in the Illinois State Senate in the final days of Spring Session. This marks a significant session victory for the Home Builders Association of Illinois and 14 other business groups & associations.
Senate Bill Sponsor, Laura Fine (D-Glenview) sent word on May 30th to all stakeholders of HB2838 that an amendment would be filed that would erase some of the controversial issues supported by the Carpenters Unions and the AFL-CIO, and that it would then be held in the Senate Judiciary Committee over the Summer for further discussion amongst all stakeholders.
HB2838 was our biggest concern of the 101st General Assembly and it was our Number #1 target for defeat on Lobby Day and throughout the Spring Session.
“Primary Contractors” would be held liable for wages & benefits of subcontractor’s employees when determined in a court of law that the employees did not receive full wage & benefits from the sub(s). Primary Contractors would then be required to pay twice for a sub’s work and could even lose their own property to fulfill their court ordered obligations.
The amendment filed on the bill did several good things. First, it added a $100,000 exemption for homeowners acting as their own Primary Contractors for the alteration or repair of his or her own property. We see this as affirmation that when this bill passed the House on a partisan roll call, it contained language that have held homeowners liable for the double-payment of wages, benefits, and union dues, even if they had already paid the contractors working on their home and had received lien waivers.
Second, the amendment eliminated a provision that passed in the House that would allow unions to sue in court for union dues not paid by the subcontractors. It also deleted language allowing a newly created Labor/Management Cooperation Council to sue contractors for sub’s non-payment of wages & benefits.
The House Sponsor of HB2838, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview), stated on the House floor during debate that there was only one way for employees to sue in court, and that was through an approval process conducted by the Illinois Dept. of Labor. The Senate Amendment affirms our contention that there were actually three avenues for lawsuits to be filed, not just one.
Third, language was added that would create a safe harbor from lawsuits for Primary Contractors once they receive a certified payroll from subcontractors. While Safe Harbor language (or an outright exemption for residential construction) is needed in this bill, HBAI board members do not yet agree with this particular language as it imposes a burden on our subcontractors in order to provide safe harbor for the primary contractors.
The bill has now been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the amendment is in the Senate Committee on Assignments.
We appreciate the wisdom of Senator Fine and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) to hold the bill from full consideration in the Senate. Even more, we appreciate that every Republican in the Illinois House Voted No on HB2838 when the vote was taken in the House Labor Committee and on the House Floor.
Later this Summer, Senator Fine will convene meetings with stakeholders to explore the possibility of finding agreed language to HB2838. I will keep you updated on these meetings and on what transpires.
In the meantime, go celebrate an HBAI victory in whatever way you wish, and enjoy the Summer months ahead.