Prevailing Wage Laws

July 2, 2012

Search for "prevailing wage laws" in Google and you will find a listing of 32 states and the District of Columbia which have a law which directly affects locksmiths if you do any work for a public body. According to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, 'public body' includes any project where funds have been made available in any way by the state of Illinois.  This might include schools, hospitals, post offices, town halls, or even the local YMCA.  It could be a very lengthy list.  

Basically, when doing any job for a public body, contractors are required to pay their employees who are working on that job a wage equal to the prevailing wage which other tradespeople are paid.   As example, a listing on a state of Illinois website shows a carpenters base hourly wage of $40.77. I left a message with my local state senator to find out what category locksmiths are listed under but the call was not returned.  

The Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (PVA) took effect in 2009.  The Act requires contractors bidding on public works jobs to fill out forms stating what hourly rate they will be paying their employees on that job.   Persons representing public bodies must notify contractors who are bidding on a job that  PVA paperwork must accompany their bid. No bid must be accepted by a public body unless the proper PVA paperwork is submitted.

Until recently, at least in Illinois, PVA laws were somewhat overlooked by both contractors and representatives of public bodies.  The low bidder got the job and the government saved money.  This has all changed. Locksmiths are now receiving letters stating that they must fill out time-consumming PVA paperwork or they will not be considered for government funded bids.

Figuring hourly wages is a business-by-business decision.  Its a free country and whatever you have to charge hourly in order to make a profit while still being competitive is up to you. As soon as the government tells us what we must charge, the system gets out of control. If every locksmith bids $40.77 as an hourly wage, what criteria will the public body use to award the bid?  Some people may believe that favoritism will surely enter the picture.

One Illinois lockmith company who does a valuable amount of business with the State and has taken the PVA case to court.  Meanwhile locksmiths in Illinois and 31 other states will have to abide by the rules we have been given.

The basis for enacting prevailing wage laws was pure enough. Lawmakers wanted to be sure that employees everywhere received a living wage.  But to force us to double or triple our hourly wage payments in order to meet some government mandate is questionable. Coincidentally however, it may be a good time for every locksmith business to consider bringing their hourly rates into the 21st century.