January 17, 2019

New Illinois Governor Acts Quickly on State Labor and Employment Issues

Holland & Knight Alert
Phillip M. Schreiber


  • New Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker used his first day in office to sign an Executive Order that directs the Illinois Department of Labor to review and expedite pending wage claims and prohibits state agencies from asking for employee salary history.
  • In addition, the governor issued an Executive Order that requires all state agencies to review their compliance with statutory mandates as well as transparency and data publication laws.
  • Gov. Pritzker also signed the Prevailing Wage Act amendments into law.

In a busy first day in office on Jan. 15, 2019, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker took several actions impacting labor and employment issues in Illinois:

Adoption of Executive Order 2019-02

Executive Order 2019-02 requires the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) to conduct a 60-day review of all pending wage cases before them. The Executive Order also requires state agencies to comply with the Project Labor Agreements Act and precludes state agencies from asking employees for their salary history:

  • IDOL Review of Pending Wage Cases. Within 60 days, the IDOL must review all pending cases under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq. (IWPCA), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq., and the Day and Temporary Services Act, 820 ILCS 175/1, et seq. The IDOL must refer egregious and repeated violations of the IWPCA to the Illinois Attorney General for prosecution, and take action to ensure all other IWPCA cases proceed quickly to administrative hearing and are then referred to the Attorney General for enforcement. For cases under other wage laws, the IDOL must review and assess all pending cases and act to resolve them or quickly refer them to the Attorney General for prosecution.
  • Compliance with the Project Labor Agreements Act. All state agencies must immediately comply with the Project Labor Agreements Act (Act), 30 ILCS 571/1, et seq. The Act requires agencies to determine whether project labor agreements (a form of pre-hire collective bargaining agreement between state agencies and a union that cover all terms and conditions of employment) are appropriate for public works projects and, if so, governs the negotiation and contents of those agreements.
  • Prohibition on Requesting Employee Salary History. The Department of Central Management Services and Department of Human Rights must review the state's pay plan to eliminate bias generated by asking employees for their salary history.

Amendments to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act

Gov. Pritzker also signed into law Public Act 100-1177, which amends the Prevailing Wage Act, 820 ILCS 130/2 et seq., to provide for the following:

  • In ascertaining the prevailing wage rates, the IDOL must establish a rate equivalent to work of a similar character performed under collective bargaining agreements in the locality when unions within the locality employ at least 30 percent of laborers, workers or mechanics in the same trade or occupation. Where no such collective bargaining agreements exist, the IDOL is to determine the prevailing wage rate for the same or most similar work in the nearest and most similar neighboring locality in which such agreements exist. If it is established, following a hearing, that less than 30 percent of the laborers, workers, or mechanics in a particular trade or occupation in the locality where the work is to be performed receive a collectively bargained rate of wage, then the average wage paid to those laborers, workers or mechanics in the same trade or occupation in the locality for the one-year period preceding the IDOL's annual determination shall be the prevailing wage rate.
  • The Amendment eliminates the option of the public body determining the prevailing wage. Only IDOL may ascertain the prevailing wage. The Amendment also revises the process for hearing prevailing wage objections so that now objection hearings proceed solely before IDOL.
  • IDOL is to create an electronic database for certified payroll information. After creation of the electronic database, contractors are to report their certified payroll information directly to IDOL rather than to the public body.
  • IDOL must prepare annual reports on state public works projects during the previous calendar year, including reports of the total number of people employed, total number of hours worked statewide and by county, and a report by employee ZIP code of the total number of people employed and hours worked.
  • IDOL must study certified payroll information, report on the participation of females and minorities on state public works projects, and develop recommendations by Dec. 31, 2020, to increase participation by those groups.

Additional Actions Concerning Labor and Employment Issues

  • Gov. Pritzker signaled his intention to restore wage increases for American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 workers previously frozen by former Gov. Bruce Rauner, but took no specific action.
  • Gov. Pritzker also issued Executive Order 2019-01, which requires all state agencies – including those handling labor and employment issues – to review their compliance with statutory mandates as well as transparency and data publication laws, and also requires each agency to review its publication practices to increase transparency.


Holland & Knight will continue to monitor developments in the state capitol as the Pritzker Administration's policies and goals continue to take shape. For more information or questions regarding the governor's actions, contact the authors.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult competent legal counsel.

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