After an initial study session presentation on March 14th, the City of Independence, Missouri adopted new rules relating to responsible bidder language within the City of Independence Procurement Policy on March 21st, 2022. These new rules will lead to a stronger Independence. This updated language, modeled after similar recently-adopted language in Kansas City, Missouri, is a huge victory for the building trade unions of the region. If you’ve ever wondered why your union pushes voting so hard and makes political donations to union-friendly politicians, it’s because of moments like this. The next decade of work in the region is looking increasingly busy and will likely redefine the culture and power of trade unions.

The “Lowest and Best Responsible Bidder” update to the City of Independence’s procurement process introduces a variety of specifications and criteria that must be met, with evidence of compliance required to be submitted to the city. All bidders and their subcontractors “for any new development plan, or substantial modification to an existing plan, that is approved by the City Council or any economic development agency created by the City, state, or federal government and that seeks ad valorem real and personal property tax abatement, exemption or redirection, the developer, redeveloper or other entity that applies for approval of such plan or modification shall pay or cause to be paid a Prevailing Wage Rate to all workmen performing work as a part of the construction, reconstruction, improvement, enlargement, alteration, painting and decorating, or major repair of any project for which the total project cost exceeds the current minimum level for prevailing wage to be required in Missouri.” Missouri’s prevailing wage is on projects over $75,000.

What that means is that projects being built in Independence, over $75,000 in scope, that have tax abatement or incentivisation structures applied to it, will now be prevailing wage jobs. Not only will prevailing wage be applied to the job, but bidders and their subcontractors will now be required to provide employees with a swath of benefits and meet certain requirements.

These same bidders and subcontractors must also have “a valid Federal Employer Identification Number or, if an individual, a valid Social Security Number, and classify anyone who performs work on public improvements as employees, not independent contractors.” That will prevent shady contractors from 1099-ing workers and paying them cash under the table. Laws like this not only protect unions in their pursuit of work for members, but they protect workers, including those without documentation, from being abused by unscrupulous contractors.

Prevailing wage laws can ensure that government dollars do not undercut local wage and benefit standards. It also works to help raise the medium income in Independence, all while producing higher quality work and increased value for taxpayers. When a state has weak or no prevailing wage laws, they spend $367 million more per year on food stamps and Earned Income Tax Credits. While jobs may be technically more expensive now, the overall effect leads to taxpayers saving money.

All bidders and their subcontractors must now also participate in active apprenticeship and training programs, like the ones found in trade unions. These programs must be approved by and registered with the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Apprenticeship, or state registered, whenever applicable for each of the trades under any given contract. This is a common sense change. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, restaurants, you name it, they are all certified. Why would you let just anybody on a construction site when it’s one of the most dangerous occupations there is? Taxpayer money is going towards infrastructure and projects that will be used for a generation to come. This makes sure that that money is being well spent.

Workers on these job sites must now have completed a 10-hour OSHA course, to ensure safety on the job site and the safety of all contractors and employees. Beyond this, any bidder who wants to work on a project in the City of Independence must now have a valid certificate of insurance that includes coverage for general liability, professional liability, product liability, workers’ compensation, completed operations, hazardous occupation, and automobile.