Omar Gaytan, CCI member , worked on the renovation of the Birdland Park shelters and was never paid by Paplow Roofing, the company that the city of Des Moines contracted to do the renovation. This company has a notorious record of judgments and wage claims against it, yet the city of Des Moines gave Paplow Roofing the project because it was the lowest bid (it is state law to take the lowest bid).
Wage theft and misclassification are rampant on construction projects. Many companies who offer the lowest bid may be able to do so because they do not pay a living wage, or do not pay at all.
Employers should not steal wages or exploit their workers, yet we find this is common practice. Taxpayer money should not go to companies that do not do right by their workers. That’s where the responsible bidder questionnaire comes in!
Iowa Code 26 states that all public projects must go to the “lowest, responsive, responsible bidder”. However, there is no definition of what “responsible” means, and no real way to determine who is or isn’t a responsible bidder.
What is the Responsible Bidder Questionnaire?
- a document with a series of questions on a company’s information ranging from number of employees to whether it has an apprenticeship program or encourages unionization
- a way to check up on the history of a company to determine whether it is a responsible company that treats employees well, or not
Any local entity or city that adopts such a questionnaire uses it to determine who is eligible to be chosen as the lowest bidder on a public project.
CCI members want workers to be protected from wage theft and exploitation, and taxpayer money to go to good companies that do right by their workers. This is why CCI members want a responsible bidder questionnaire that would serve to check companies’ records and define what constitutes a responsible company that is worthy of working on public projects in Iowa.
Responsible contracting protects conditions for workers, rewards ethical companies and weeds out unscrupulous companies from highly profitable projects. So, the Des Moines City Council recently approved the questionnaire!
Click here for the latest in the Future of Work Campaign.
Had a bad experience with a contractor? Let us know! We are creating a Contractor’s guide and need your input.
Read more on the Future of Work in America from our National Affiliate National People’s Action.
Worker Justice Clinics
This community coffee hour is a monthly gathering for workers to create community, get trained on their rights at work, and learn to take the first steps towards organizing in their workplace. Join us!
Check out what a clinic is like, here.