December 29, 2005
Posted online January 7, 2005
New Illinois labor laws protect workers and
STATE OF ILLINOIS
CHICAGO – Thousands of workers across Illinois will be
better protected against abuses by unlawful day labor agencies,
will enjoy improved working conditions and will be protected in
their rights to fair wages, thanks to two new labor laws signed
by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich last summer and that go into
effect January 1, 2006. The strengthened Day and Temporary Labor
Services Act will make Illinois the most aggressive state in the
nation regarding protecting day laborers against illegal wage
deductions and other abuses, and imposing stiffer penalties
against violators. The amended Prevailing Wage Act increases
penalties against contractors who repeatedly fail to pay
construction workers the prevailing wage.
"For thousands of day laborers in Illinois, better
protections and better working conditions mean being able to
bring home their hard-earned money and provide for their
families. By strengthening the Day Labor Services Act we will be
able to go after abusive agencies who cheat day laborers of their
wages or leave them unprotected on the job," said Gov.
Blagojevich. "Starting January 1, we are also ensuring that
workers are paid no less than the prevailing wage on public
works, leveling the playing field for honest, law-abiding
contractors who follow the rules," said the Governor.
The amended Day and Temporary Labor Services Act, sponsored by
State Rep. Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Miguel del
Valle (D-Chicago) will protect over 300,000 day laborers across
the state by providing the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL)
with stronger enforcement tools, imposing stiffer penalties on
violators, and implementing important protections for vulnerable
day and temporary laborers.
Highlights of the new changes in the Day and Temporary Labor
Services Act include:
• Requiring agencies to provide workers with detailed
employment and wage notices, which can be inspected by the
• Protecting day laborers' paychecks from
unreasonable deductions for meals and equipment;
• Requiring agencies to pay workers for lost time when
they are sent to a job, only to be sent back because the agency
sent too many workers;
• Requiring employers that contract with day or
temporary labor agencies to verify that they are registered with
IDOL or face monetary penalties;
• Requiring agencies to provide proof of workers'
compensation and unemployment insurance
• Prohibiting agencies from charging workers fees for
transportation between the agency and the job site and requiring
that such transportation meet basic safety standards; and
• Prohibiting agencies from retaliating or
discriminating against a worker who exercises his or her rights
under the Act and giving workers the right to sue for damages
when harmed by violations.
The new law will also allow IDOL to impose a $500 penalty
against a day labor agency for each day it is not registered. For
all other violations, the department may fine first-time
violators up to $6,000 and repeat violators up to $2,500 per
violation per day. To pay for increased enforcement of the day
and temporary labor industry, the legislation increases agency
registration fees to $1,000 and adds a fee of $250 per branch
"We applaud Governor Blagojevich's determination
to improve the lives of native born and immigrant workers
throughout the state. This law will help so many people of faith,
so many denominations to receive just treatment as they work had
to build better lives for themselves," said Jose Oliva,
coordinator of the Interfaith Workers' Centers Network.
"Illinois is now the most aggressive state in the nation
to end abuses leveled against day laborers by unscrupulous
employers. Governor Blagojevich's support of working
families has helped the state protect its most vulnerable
workers," said Tim Bell, executive director of the Chicago
The Prevailing Wage amendment, sponsored by State Rep. Larry
McKeon (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) ensures a
fair wage for all of the state's construction workers and
allows for IDOL to impose stiffer penalties against contractors
who violate the law.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan initiated legislation
that strengthens the Prevailing Wage Act, stating that penalties
under the current law were not severe enough to deter contractors
from repeatedly violating the law. The amended Act is designed to
prevent non-compliance by increasing fines against repeat
violators, extending the debarment period -- during which a
contractor is ineligible for a public works contract -- and
imposing a monetary penalty against employers who retaliate
against employees for filing prevailing wage complaints.
Penalties for violations of the prevailing wage law
• Increasing penalties for second or subsequent
violations from 20% to 50% of underpaid wages. It also requires
repeat violators to pay a worker 5% of this penalty, up from 2%,
for each month that the amount remains unpaid.
• Increasing debarment to four years for contractors
with two or more serious violations within a five-year
• Imposing fines on employers who retaliate against
workers for reporting a violation in the amount of $5,000 in
addition to existing remedies, such as reinstatement and
compensation for lost wages.
According to IDOL, the Department has received on average
1,200 prevailing wage complaints per year over the last three
"The Illinois Department of Labor is ready to enforce
laws that have more teeth to help us to protect hard-working men
and women in Illinois from being underpaid. These laws will also
keep illegal temporary agencies who undercut legitimate
businesses in check," said Art Ludwig, Director of the
Illinois Department of Labor.
"The Prevailing Wage law guarantees that the
state's construction workers will receive a fair wage. It
enables the Illinois Department of Labor and the Attorney
General's Office to enforce the existing prevailing wage
law more effectively and strengthens the penalties against those
contractors who fail to follow the law. Contractors who treat
employees fairly will not be at a disadvantage but will now be at
an advantage," said Margaret Blackshere, president of the
Illinois AFL-CIO. As protecting workers' rights is one of
the Governor's top priorities, he has through executive or
• Signed legislation that broadens picketing rights for
labor unions and other workers involved in labor disputes with
their employers, allowing workers to picket, post temporary
signs, park vehicles and set up tents or other temporary shelter
areas for the picketers on public rights of way.
• Signed legislation that dramatically changes the
workers' compensation system to increase benefits for
workers, reduce costs for businesses, and fight fraud. After the
Governor made workers' compensation reform a top priority
in his 2005 State of the State address, he convened negotiations
over several months with business and labor leaders and members
of the General Assembly that resulted in the first major overhaul
of Illinois' workers' compensation system in nearly
• Expanded health care benefits to working families.
Almost 400,000 men, women and children have received health care
in Illinois – at a time when most states are not providing
increased coverage for the working poor and are taking people off
of Medicaid or significantly reducing their benefits.
• Signed All Kids, legislation that would make
comprehensive health insurance available to nearly 250,000
children in Illinois who do not have health insurance. The new
law will cover more than half of children who come from working
and middle class families that earn too much to qualify for state
programs like KidCare, but not enough to afford private health
• Raised the minimum wage to $6.50 an hour, benefiting
an estimated 450,000 Illinois workers. The raise made Illinois
one of a few states in the nation to increase the minimum wage
above the federal level of $5.15 an hour, which hasn't
changed since 1997.
• Signed legislation protecting hundreds of thousands
of workers from being stripped of their right to overtime pay by
new federal regulations.
• Signed legislation to protect workers from employer
indoctrination and confinement, making Illinois only the third
state in the nation to enact card check recognition of public
employees. The law provides that if 50 percent or more of workers
sign union authorization cards, union recognition is
• Signed legislation to help ensure that women receive
equal pay for equal work. Under Illinois' Equal Pay Act, if
a man and a woman do the same job, they must be paid the
• Signed legislation to protect U.S. jobs by requiring
companies bidding for state business to certify whether the terms
of the contract will be performed in the United States, and
encouraging state agencies to buy products that are manufactured
in the United States.
• Expanded rights of Illinois workers to join a union.
This directly benefited 50,000 home childcare workers, 20,000
personal care assistants and thousands of graduate students and
• Signed legislation to improve the structure and
funding of the Unemployment Trust Fund.
• Signed legislation that requires every contractor
providing equipment, materials or supplies to the State of
Illinois to specify that no foreign-made equipment, materials or
supplies be produced by children under the age of 12. Provides
for penalties for a contractor who knowingly furnishes goods to
the state produced by foreign child labor.