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Frequently Asked Questions

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Help for Contractors
How We Help Contractors

III FFC is the contractor's advocate in the construction industry. We're dedicated to ensuring the fair enforcement of Federal and State prevailing wage laws.

For Contractors we...
1. Provide accurate wage rate and worker classification information.
2. Help contractors understand their rights and responsibilities under the law.
3. Monitor prevailing wage projects for compliance.

III FFC 's goal is to provide a "level playing field" for all contractors who choose to bid public works projects. Our work provides firms with a fair competitive opportunity to compete on the basis of skill and efficiency, rather than losing bids to disreputable and unfair contractors who underbid the specifications in the contract.

All services are confidential!
No matter what kind of assistance you need from the III FFC, you can count on the strictest confidentiality.

All it takes to put us into action is a call to 815-254-3332, a letter, or inquiry. Email us at info@IIIFFC.org.

Help for Workers
How We Help Workers
It is essential that every worker knows and understands the classification of the work they are performing. Once you know the classification, you can find out what the prevailing wage benefits are.

Each job classification on a public works project requires payment of a prevailing wage. What your classification was when hired is not important. The work you perform on the job is what matters.

Each job classification requires that specific duties are performed. If you perform work that falls under a different classification that has a higher prevailing wage, you must be paid the higher wage.

The III FFC offers assistance for workers who are unsure of their job classification or believe they are being misclassified or underpaid.

The III FFC helps workers determine the type of project they are working on and interpret the laws so that workers can better understand their rights and entitlement to prevailing wages, overtime pay, and benefits due to them according to the type of classification of work performed.

Misclassification of workers and wage underpayment are the most prevalent unfair wage practices in the construction industry. The III FFC educates workers on understanding that each separate craft classification of work they are doing requires a certain basic wage rate and fringe benefits. In addition, the III FFC will provide workers with the prevailing wage rate for each classification and geographical area they perform work in.

Is your hard earned money going down the drain? Want to know how much money you are losing by not being paid the proper Prevailing Wage?

All it takes to put us into action is a call to 815.254.3332, a letter, or inquiry. Email us at info@IIIFFC.org.

Help for Public Bodies

How We Help Public Bodies
Wage laws have an important role in helping maintain a stable local economy, by providing a more reliable and predictable tax flow into our public treasuries. A reputation for effective enforcement of these laws will help keep disreputable contractors from bidding your projects. Bear in mind that contractors who would cheat the workers who are making them profits would not think twice about cheating you or the taxpayers you represent.

Enforcement of Prevailing Wage laws should be a high priority on your next project.

For Agencies we can...
1. Provide you with accurate wage rate and worker classification information.
2. Help you understand your rights and responsibilities under the law.
3. Conduct periodic interviews with employees on construction projects.
4. Conduct seminars and presentations about the Prevailing Wage laws.

Do prevailing wage projects cost more? Read the studies on this page before you fall for the same old stories.

We are here to help you ensure that tax monies expended are used in the most efficient manner possible--with fairness to all citizens.

All it takes to put us into action is a call to 815-254-3332, a letter, or inquiry. Email us at info@IIIFFC.org.

What territory does the III FFC cover?
III FFC area of responsibility is the Northern one third of Illinois, Northwest Indiana and 7 counties in Iowa along the Mississippi River. See our III FFC page for a complete list of counties and assigned FFC investigators.
What are Prevailing Wage Rates?
Prevailing Wage Laws regulate wages paid to workers performing public work. The Prevailing Wage Act requires contractors and subcontractors to pay laborers, workers and mechanics employed on PUBLIC WORKS construction projects no less than the general prevailing rate of wages (consisting of hourly cash wages plus fringe benefits) for work of a similar character in the county where the work is performed. The prevailing wage includes the hourly wage ordinarily paid for that work plus the value of the usual fringe benefits paid for that job. An employer must pay the combined total in either wages or cash wages plus benefit contributions. Want to figure your prevailing wage rate? While the basic premise of these laws is “worker protection,” contractors and the community benefit as well. Prevailing Wage Laws create a level economic playing field for those bidding on publicly funded work. According to numerous studies, the laws also result in the best possible finished product in return for the taxpayers’ investment.
How do I find out my prevailing wage rate?
Click here to access our Wage Calculator.
How do I contact the IDOL?
To contact the IDOL or find out information about the Illinois Department of Labor visit their website.
Who determines Prevailing Wage Rates?
The contractor or subcontractor does not determine the rate of pay on public works projects. The Prevailing Wage rate is a predetermined hourly wage including fringe benefits for the classification of work performed. Davis Bacon wages are set by the U.S. Department of Labor. To see the Davis Bacon Wage Determinations for your state and county click here. State wages are determined in Illinois by the Illinois Department of Labor and in Indiana a wage setting hearing is convened for each project bid by the public body i.e. school, village, county etc. The Indiana Department of Labor oversees this process.
What are fringe benefits? (Health and Welfare and Pension)

Fringe Benefits are monies paid over and above the basic trade wage rate for a given area. Fringe benefits can include apprenticeship and training, health and welfare, insurance, vacations, and pensions paid generally, in the locality in which the work is being performed, to employees engaged in work of a similar character on public works projects. The Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets standards for administering certain fringe benefit plans. This law requires employers or plan administrators to:

1. Set up an account in each worker's name.
2. Make promised contributions.
3. Make contributions at least every 90 days.
4. Provide a Summary Annual Report.
5. Provide copies of plan documents that tell workers how to file a claim for benefits, the requirements to qualify for participation and the worker's rights under the law.

What health/welfare/pension plans can an employer deduct money for?

If the plan is bona fide, the contractor may make the deductions. Questions regarding validity of benefit plans should be addressed to the:

Illinois Attorney General's Office
500 South Second Street
Springfield, IL 62706

217.782.1090 or the U.S. Department of Labor, Pension Welfare and Benefits Administration 617.565.9600. More Pension information can be found at FreeERISA.com or the USDOL site Protecting My Pension.

Who is required to pay Prevailing Wage Rates?
The Davis-Bacon Act as amended, requires that each contract over $2,000 to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works shall contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to various classes of laborers and mechanics employed under the contract. Under the provisions of the Act, contractors or their subcontractors are to pay workers employed directly upon the site of the work no less than the local prevailing wages and fringe benefits paid on projects of a similar character. To check the Davis-Bacon rates in your area, click here.
What are public works projects?
Public works projects consist of federal, state, and local taxpayer-financed construction projects such as airports, highways, roads, streets, city sidewalks, sewers, waterlines, schools, libraries, and federal, state, or city buildings, all of which are entered into for construction, alteration, repair, painting or decorating, financed in whole or in part by government funds.
What is the Davis-Bacon Act?
The Davis-Bacon Act requires payment of prevailing wages on federal construction contracts over $2000. As stated by Representative Robert L. Bacon, a sponsor of the law: “It seems to me that the federal government should not engage in construction work in any state and undermine the labor conditions and the labor wages paid in the state….The least the Federal Government can do is comply with the local standards of wages and labor prevailing in the locality where the building construction is to take place.” Click here for a history of the Davis-Bacon Act.
Do Prevailing Wage Rates cost taxpayers more?

The following studies prove otherwise. Check out these amazing studies that support training and skill as value, not costs. You will need Acrobat Reader to view these reports.

Prevailing Wage Studies
A Comparison of Public School Construction Costs In Three Midwestern States that Have Changed Their Prevailing Wage Laws in the 1990s, by Peter Philips, University of Utah. 2/01 (16 pages)
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The report focuses upon the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan to examine whether or not the application of prevailing wage regulations raises construction costs and, if so, by how much. Specifically, the report analyzes new public school construction in the aforementioned states over the period of 1991-2000 to assess statistically whether or not changes in the prevailing wage policies as they applied to public school construction raised or lowered the cost of building public schools. The analysis of the school construction completed in the three states during the periods when prevailing wage laws were in effect, suspended or repealed found no statistically significant difference between those schools built with or without prevailing wage regulations. In fact, on a number of instances school construction costs actually rose, such as in Ohio, subsequent to repeal of the state’s prevailing wage law.

The Effect of State Prevailing Wage Laws on Total Construction Costs, Mark J. Prus, State University of New York, Cortland, N.Y. 1/96 (15 pages)
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This is the first study to look at the actual construction costs of prevailing wage projects on a variety of construction projects since the flawed 1983 study of unrelated regional areas, "The Effect of the Davis-Bacon Act on Construction Costs in Rural Areas," (Fraundorf, 1983). The Prus study analyzes the impact of prevailing wage legislation on total construction costs using data on nonresidential construction in the United States from the F.W. Dodge Company, an organization that collects and disseminates data on construction projects to the construction industry. These data give information on construction costs at the start of the project, or bid price. The study also contains information on detailed structure type, project location, project scale and technical characteristics of the project such as the number of stories and type of frame. The report also favorably compares the cost and related factors between public, private and federal projects on a regional basis.

Losing Ground: Lessons from the Repeal of Nine "Little Davis-Bacon" Acts, Garth Mangum, Peter Philips, Norm Waitzman and Anne Yeagle, University of Utah. 2/95 (98 pages)
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The study examines the impact of repealing state prevailing wage laws in 9 states that repealed their statutes between 1979 to 1988. The report compares the 9 repeal states with the remaining 32 states with prevailing wage laws and the 9 states that never enacted prevailing wage laws. From this detailed comparative analysis the authors found several clear and profound negative effects of repeal. While most closely examining the impact of repeal in the state of Utah, the author emphasizes the worsening level of worker wages, benefits and training, as well as increased worker injuries and greater number of project change orders and cost overruns, in all states reviewed.

Square Foot Construction Costs for Newly Constructed State and Local Schools, Offices and Warehouses in Nine Southwestern States, by Peter Philips, University of Utah. 9/96 (48 pages)
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Prepared for the State of New Mexico Legislature, this study compares actual public square foot construction costs in the five Southwestern and Intermountain states that have state prevailing wage laws with the four states in the same region that do not have state prevailing wage laws. These five “have law” states are New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Nevada. The four “no-law” states are Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Colorado. During the period of the study, 1992-94, elementary and middle schools cost less per square foot in the five-state group with prevailing wage laws. The conservative conclusion from the actual construction cost data is that cost differences found between states does not provide support for the proposition that the elimination of prevailing wage law saves on public construction.

Kansas and Prevailing Wage Legislation, by Peter Philips, University of Utah. 2/98 (56 pages)
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The report is a case-study comparison of new school construction costs in Kansas compared to the surrounding Great Plains states that have retained their prevailing wage laws. The conclusion finds no difference in square foot construction costs between comparable states with and without prevailing wage laws. Training and productivity levels did drop, however, after repeal of the Kansas prevailing wage repeal. Especially noted were drops in wages, minority apprenticeship-training and employer contributions to pension, health and welfare programs. In addition to these negative results, Kansas reaped a costly, higher injury rate in construction.

Kentucky’s Prevailing Wage Law: Its History, Purpose and Effect, by Peter Philips, University of Utah. 11/99 (91 pages)
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The comprehensive report on Kentucky’s prevailing wage law analyzes actual construction cost data, historical information, training, health and safety statistics to rebut the myths surrounding prevailing wages. Beyond its focus on Kentucky, the author includes a lengthy chapter on the history and economic impact of prevailing wage laws on minorities in the national construction industry. The report also examines the positive impact the Kentucky prevailing wage law has had in improving worker benefits, training and job safety. The study concludes that not only are prevailing wage jobs not more expensive, but they achieve solid benefits in the form of lower injuries, greater minority employment, a larger pool of skilled workers, and increased health and welfare benefits.

Prevailing Wage Regulations and School Constructions Costs: Evidence From British Columbia, by Cihan Bilginsoy and Peter Philips, University of Utah. Journal of Education Finance, Winter 2000. (22 pages)
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The report examines the proposition that eliminating prevailing wages reduces school construction costs by analyzing the unique final construction cost data from the United States and British Columbia. Specifically focusing on the prevailing wage law in British Columbia (BC) where public construction wages must reflect 90 percent of the collectively bargained wage rate for each construction occupation, the report utilized final cost data from new elementary and secondary public school construction projects from six school districts in BC tendered between 1989 and 1995. The conclusion of the study rebuts the proposition that BC’s prevailing wage law was the sole or main factor in school construction costs in the period examined.

Prevailing Wage Laws and School Construction Costs, Mark J. Prus, Ph.D., Economics Department, State University of New York. 1/99 (34 pages)
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This comprehensive study was commissioned at the request of the Council of Prince George's County, Maryland to analyze the impact of prevailing wages on actual costs for public school construction projects in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic States. The County was embarking on a major six year capital program for the construction and renovation of public schools and wanted four areas reviewed:

1. A comparison of school construction costs in states with prevailing wage laws to those in states without prevailing wage laws in the mid-Atlantic region.
2. A comparison of school construction costs within Maryland for those local jurisdictions that pay prevailing wages to costs in those areas where prevailing wage rates are not required.
3. An analysis of the extent to which local contractors have been harmed by unfair competition from outside contractors due to the absence of prevailing wage requirements on school construction projects.
4. An examination of the extent to which the absence of prevailing wage rates in school construction impacts construction wages across the construction industry.

Based upon a statistical analysis of actual construction cost data on individual school construction projects provided by the F. W. Dodge Corporation, the study found conclusive evidence of the positive impact of prevailing wage laws on construction quality, labor markets, worker wages and construction costs.

Prevailing Wages and Government Contracting Costs: A review of the research, Nooshin Mahalia, Economic Policy Institute, Briefing Paper #215. 07/08 (20 pages)
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This report analyzes major research studies on the relationship between the cost of projects covered by prevailing wage laws and those that are not. The report finds that the studies cited by prevailing wage opponents are typically flawed; such studies often rely on hypothetical models which assume that higher wages lead to higher contract costs, without testing whether other factors eliminate the assumed costs. In fact, most modern studies find no cost impact on public construction projects associated with implementation of prevailing wage regulations. The report identifies possible reasons why the costs to the public body may be the same regardless of a wage difference, for example: contractors might pay the wages required under prevailing wage laws even if the law does not require it; labor costs are not the dominant costs in public construction projects; and costs may be offset by a rise in productivity.

How do I file a Prevailing Wage or Davis-Bacon complaint?
A complaint can be filed by any injured party, worker or contractor. It is imperative that you keep a record of your hours worked as well as what tasks you performed on your job, i.e. carpenter, truck driver, plumber etc. as well as your recent pay stubs. These records are needed in order for the III FFC to assist you in obtaining back wages due. Please remember all information provided to our office is handled with the strictest confidentiality. If you feel you have not been paid correctly please call 815.254.3332 or Email us at info@IIIFFC.org.
Is my employer required to post Prevailing Wage Rates on the job site?
On all Federal (Davis-Bacon) projects, and in Illinois, the contractor and all the subcontractors are required to post the U.S. Department of Labor Wage Determinations and IDOL wages at the job site in a prominent and accessible place where they may be easily seen by all workers. Indiana and Iowa currently do not have to post wage rates on non-federal jobs. Need a copy of the federal poster? Download the PDF here.
What do III FFC services cost?
In short, nothing. The III FFC is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the public works construction industry. The III FFC services are available to you free of charge. Please call 815.254.3332 or Email us at info@IIIFFC.org.
What are my rights on the job?
There are many rights workers have on the jobsite, whether Union or Non-Union employees. One of these important rights is called "Weingarten Rights." Also check out our Laws page.

Weingarten Rights
Read more about these important rights.
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Civil Rights Act of 1991

Dept of Justice ADA
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Sexual Harassment
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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - EEOC

U.S. National Labor Relations Board - NLRB

Employment Standards Administration Wage & Hour Division
Family & Medical Leave Act
Fair Labor Standards Act

Safety On the Job
The "workers" page
U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Agency - OSHA

OSHA's Mission
OSHA Publications

What is the importance of apprenticeship?
Participation in an apprenticeship program that is approved by and registered with the USDOL helps ensure workers receive the skills, training and experience necessary to produce the highest quality construction in a safe and efficient work environment. The USDOL’s Office of Apprenticeship requires program sponsors to submit written standards outlining the terms of apprenticeship employment, training and supervision and must include minimum hours of classroom and on-the-job training.

To review an Analysis of Construction Industry Apprenticeship Programs in Indiana, click here
III FFC 's record of success
The III FFC has investigated over 1500 cases, and filed over 900 complaints with the USDOL and state agencies covering 20 counties in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa since 1999. In more than three-quarters of these cases, individual investigators recorded pertinent project information. Since our inception in July of 1999, the III FFC investigations have resulted in assessments by various enforcement agencies of over $1,700,000 in back wages and penalties for underpaid workers.

This kind of additional monitoring, above what the states can provide, is what helps keep all contractors on an equal footing and ultimately brings stability and consistency to the industry. When everyone is doing business under the same rules and conditions, only the best prosper, rather than those who can merely best manipulate the system.

The III FFC is helping to “keep it fair for contractors and workers” in Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa’s construction industry.


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