David Cates discusses the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act and how it is being violated by multi-million dollar corporations who deny construction workers their rights to inflate their bottom line. This may be a surprise to some in the public, but Mr. David Cates, an award-winning trial lawyer, has been fighting on behalf of hard-working men and women for decades. He is known for his environmental work representing clients against polluters in the Midwest. However, he is especially noted for his personal injury trials, where jurors have often awarded him record-breaking verdicts.
David Cates is considered by his peers to be among America’s top lawyers. He is an expert in class action and mass tort lawsuits involving defective drugs, dangerous medical devices, and hazardous consumer products. He has been responsible for some of the most significant verdicts and settlements in these types of cases. In addition, Mr. Cates possesses an acute knowledge of Illinois’ complex laws which he uses to his client’s advantage and benefit.
He is a strong proponent of union rights and is fighting to protect all working men and women in Illinois who deserve their rights. This includes the prevailing wage, which he says is a right that mandates certain workers be paid fair wages with benefits for their work on public projects such as schools, highways, and bridges.
We asked Mr. Cates to share his knowledge about this critical issue and what the law states regarding prevailing wage. This will be a discussion of Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Act so we can better understand how our hard-earned tax dollars are being used by corporations who benefit from them at the expense of workers.
We begin with a question: What is the prevailing wage?
“Prevailing wage is the pay scale of wages set by law for employees who work on public projects such as schools, highways, and bridges. Prevailing wage laws are primarily found in state statutes that require contractors on public construction projects to hire only workers who are paid at or above a certain rate determined by law.”
We then asked Mr. Cates how this law helps the average citizen.
“Well, the first thing it does is that prevailing wage laws provide everyone who works on public projects with fair wages and benefits paid for by taxpayer dollars. It provides workers with job security because it ensures all contractors compete equally for work. Prevailing wage makes sure taxpayers are getting what they pay for by ensuring quality work, fair competition, and legal wages.”
One might ask what the argument against prevailing wage is. We posed this question to Mr. Cates as well.
“The contractors who oppose prevailing wage claim that it costs too much because they have to pay more for labor than they made before. While this may be true at times, particularly where the contractors are already paying prevailing wages in their home state, it is not a fact in all cases. For example, in some states where the prevailing wage is listed as $20 an hour, companies will seek to pay $10 or $15, arguing that the cost of living is lower in another state. This happens regularly, and that’s why we have such broad support for Prevailing Wage across this country.”
We asked Mr. Cates what the difference is between prevailing wage and minimum wage.
“That’s a great question. Prevailing wage looks at multiple factors such as skill level and geographic location, among other considerations, to set fair compensation rates for employees working on public construction projects. Under federal law, state and local governments may pay less than the federal minimum wage to workers with disabilities. That’s not allowed under prevailing wage laws because prevailing wages are scheduled rates set for all employees working on public projects.”
“Another difference is that private contractors are required to pay overtime – usually time and a half or 1.5 times their normal pay rate. Under prevailing wage laws, public contractors have to pay their workers more than minimum wage. Prevailing Wage considers the skills of the people working whether it be skilled or unskilled labor.”