Today, there is an inflatable rat in front of the Library. He and his friends arrived this morning. They are exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech by picketing the contractor selected to perform the Library's roof replacement. You may have seen our rat’s big brother on Route 59 near Renwick Road yesterday for a similar protest on the road construction contractor.
According to Illinois law, public bodies (libraries, Villages, park districts, the State itself, et al) must go through a public bid process for construction projects and comply with the Prevailing Wage Act. The threshold for public bid varies by type of public body. For library districts, the threshold is projects over $20,000. Prevailing Wage is determined by the Illinois Department of Labor.
The roof replacement contract was publicly bid. Thirteen bids were received. National Roofing was the lowest qualified bidder for the base bid plus alternate 1. In order to be disqualified from bidding on public projects, a contractor has to have been found in violation of the Prevailing Wage Act twice within five years. National Roofing has one violation on file with the Department of Labor from 2008. This contractor is NOT excluded from receiving public contracts at this time, so there was no reason to disqualify them as bidders. According to the contract they signed, they must pay Prevailing Wage on this job, in compliance with the Prevailing Wage Act. This was reiterated to National Roofing at the pre-construction meeting.
The Library and its contractor have followed all of the rules and laws about the bidding process and Prevailing Wage requirements. Our project manager will be checking to ensure that Prevailing Wage is paid on this job. That’s all we can do with any contract or contractor.
Further information about Prevailing Wage can be found at http://www.state.il.us/agency/idol/listings/debar.htm
A copy of the violation notice received by National Roofing, clearly stating that it was a first violation, can be found here: http://www.iiiffc.org/pdf/violators/2008/120908_NationalRoofing.pdf
As ardent supporters of free speech, librarians would be the last people to say someone can't stage a protest. We respect their right to express their opinions, just as we hope they will respect the rights of patrons to use the library unimpeded.