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MKD Electric Opposes Illinois SB 2480
As active merit shop members of the Illinois construction industry, MKD Electric strongly opposes Illinois Senate Bill 2480, which will essentially have the effect of requiring all construction and maintenance work at privately owned petroleum refineries and petrochemical facilities within the state to be exclusively performed by members of certain trade unions.
While the proponents are cloaking the legislation with arguments that this is a bill promoting safely for hazardous work, the legislation requires the prevailing wage to be paid on all construction at these facilities. SB 2480 is an unprecedented use of the “prevailing wage rate” for private work. This change sets a dangerous precedent as there is no state or local nexus of financial support to the work being performed. It creates an artificial wage rate that eliminates competitive market forces for companies affected by this legislation and will add to Illinois’ reputation as a high-cost state to do business.
“Construction” is broadly defined and would include any maintenance, no matter how minor the work may be, not limited to hazardous work. “…Means all work at a stationary source involving laborers, workers or mechanics. ‘Construction’ includes any maintenance, repair, assembly, or disassembly work performed on equipment whether owned, leased, or rented.” Such a broad definition would include work such as plumbing repairs, updating employee locker rooms, etc., i.e., work that is non-hazardous in nature.
SB 2480 also requires a certain percentage of all workers to have successfully completed apprenticeship training. This stipulation violates The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). NLRA prohibits states from regulating conduct that Congress reserved for the free play of economic forces. By requiring owners and operators of petroleum refining and petrochemical manufacturing to utilize certain apprentice training programs, SB 2480 discriminates against merit shop employers and union employers that are not affiliated with the union(s) providing such apprenticeship and training programs.
Lastly, SB 2480 requires undefined, advanced safety training regulated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Contractors and facility owners take training and safety seriously. There is no data or examples indicating a lack of training or safety being performed. Typically, a worker that SB 2480 seeks to cover already receives about 40 hours per year of safety training. Understanding the hazardous nature of the work being performed, employers and site owners are diligent in their emphasis on safety and getting the job done properly either by their workforce or outside contractors. The required safety training would only be allowed to be delivered by IEPA or a community college, which will cause access issues.
SB 2480 would send another strong signal that Illinois works against business and interferes with the private marketplace to the detriment of job retention and growth.