Board members and attendees of the June 27 Forest Park Village Council meeting were surprised when a half-dozen representatives from various union organizations showed up to protest a contract for sidewalk removal.

The meeting got under way with public comment from Richard Pieruccini, a marketing representative from the Great Lakes Organizing Committee, who challenged a $30,000 contract with Robert R. Andreas & Sons paving company that was about to be voted on (the company was the lowest of three bidders).

Pieruccini cited two alleged violations of the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act that the company committed (one in 2008, and one in May 2011), as reason not to award Andreas the contract. In one case, the company paid $542.05 in back wages to employees, and in another, it gave $317.53 in owed payments to workers. This was documented in a letter sent by the Illinois Department of Labor to different union representatives that Pieruccini gave to council members at the meeting.  He had no other information about either case, though.

“They shouldn’t be awarded more work if they’re not abiding by prevailing wage,” said Pieruccini, adding that if the contract were awarded, he would be on site every day to “investigate” whether Robert Andreas was logging its workers’ hours correctly and paying them properly.  

Pieruccini’s fellow attendees represent various unions and labor organizations. After the meeting, they implored Calderone to recognize a “moral obligation,” as Al Naimoli, president of Local 76 Cement Workers union, put it. Naimoli said several workers of companies that were not awarded the contract were members of Local 76.

Calderone told the men and the Forest Park Review that the village’s engineering firm, Christopher Burke Engineering Ltd., certifies the employee payrolls of contractors doing business with the village to make sure that workers are paid justly, but this happens after the job starts.

During the meeting, Commissioner Chris Harris tried to table the vote so the board could look into the issues surrounding Robert Andreas, but the motion failed when no one seconded it. Calderone promised that the village would contact the Illinois Department of Labor and, if there were any “red flags,” the board could rescind the vote at a later meeting. The board ended up unanimously approving the contract.

Commissioner Mark Hosty dismissed the significance of any labor issues and said that the only “red flags” the village needed to worry about were reports of shoddy work in other municipalities. He added that he had an obligation to the “taxpayers” to go with the lowest bidder. According to Calderone and Village Attorney Nick Peppers, the village was required to choose Robert Andreas because it offered the lowest bid out of the three competing companies, with a price roughly $5,000 less than the runner-up.

-Nick Moroni