Last week Dominique Durbin of Durbin Enterprises, Inc. (a geothermal drilling company) filed suit against the Springfield School Board, the school superintendent, and the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) after the company's bid on a well project was rejected based on a three-year-old "notice of 1st violation" for failing to pay prevailing wage, which was triggered by an anonymous complaint.
The supposed violation ended up being a minor clerical error, which was fixed and wages owed were subsequently paid by the company. All audits performed by IDOL since that time have shown Durbin Enterprises to be in full compliance with all applicable regulations; and no further complaints have ever been made.
Durbin Enterprises' bid on the well project was $125,000 less than the next lowest bidder, a union company. What makes this situation suspect is the fact that the Springfield School Board President is also the Political Director for the AFL-CIO.
Last week Sen. Dale Righter introduced SB1389, which was heard in the Senate Labor Committee. SB1389 would change Illinois’ current law to protect contractors bidding on public works projects from being penalized for "first notices" from IDOL.
Catherine Shannon, Director of IDOL, testified at the hearing. In her testimony she stated that certain contractors use IDOL as a means to harass other, competing contractors. She also indicated that public bodies (such as the Springfield School Dist.) should not be using the "first violation notice" as a means to reject bids as even IDOL considers a contractor in good standing until a notice of first and second violation is proven. On Monday, a Judge made the determination to deny Durbin Enterprises request for temporary injunctive relief citing almost verbatim the same reason the Springfield School District's attorney had been using.
Yesterday Dominique Durbin appeared on two Springfield TV stations and was interviewed by The Illinois Times, and political radio host Jim Leach.
Also yesterday, Catherine Shannon was fired from IDOL. It is unclear if there is a correlation between her testimony, the lawsuit against the Springfield School District, and the President of the School Board being Political Director for the AFL-CIO. However, it seems unusual that the day the testimony is made public, Catherine Shannon is fired.