Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates.  This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director  Robb Kahl

As you all know, state agencies, counties, cities, villages, towns and other public entities must award public works projects to the lowest responsible bidder. Who is a "responsible" bidder is not well-defined in the statutes, and courts have generally held that whether a bidder is "responsible" is a matter left to the discretion of the public entity.
To assist state agencies, counties, cities, villages, towns, other public entities, engineering firms, and general contractors, CBG has collected publicly available information and documents on over 5,200 businesses (union and non-union) who are likely to bid on public works projects.  Information and documents have been gathered from state and federal agencies, Wisconsin state courts, federal courts, municipal clerks and a variety of other public sources. 
Twelve categories of information have been collected, including prevailing wage violations, unemployment violations, federal and state court civil judgments, debarments and more.  The database has hyperlinks to downloadable public documents collected by CBG.  Annually, CBG will re-verify all 12 categories of information on all 5,200+ contractors.
CBG is not providing anyone with advice or an opinion as to whether a business listed in the database is or is not a "responsible" bidder or should or should not be used, hired, contracted with or awarded work.  Those are decisions that must be made by project owners in consultation with their legal counsel.  And while CBG makes every attempt to have up-to-date, accurate information, the bidder database is a research starting point.  Project owners, engineering firms, general contractors and others should always undertake their own independent research and analysis.
However, this is a resource that is being made available at a critical time.  Without prevailing wage laws to protect against low-road contractors winning public works projects, governmental agencies will need to thoroughly vet bidders to make certain they award work to the lowest responsible bidder.  CBG's bidder database is free to registered users.  To apply to be a registered user, go to to learn more.

Building Wisconsin Together ®
Pre-Apprenticeship Primer


Many of the workforce initiatives that are underway through CBG's efforts are defined as pre-apprenticeship. Whether we are targeting youth through Destinations Career Academy or adults through Apprenticeship Readiness, the end goal is to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in Registered Apprenticeship. 


Pre-Apprenticeship is a hot topic right now because of the June Presidential Order to expand apprenticeship in order to: 

  • Prepare workers to fill existing and newly created jobs
  • Ensure students are graduating with the skills necessary to secure jobs
  • Provide paid, relevant workplace experience and opportunities to develop skills that employers value
  • Provide an affordable path to good jobs and careers

The Apprenticeship Expansion Order is focused on populations the Operating Engineers are currently targeting:  high school students and veterans. 


We are currently seeking Pre-Apprenticeship status from DWD and will share additional information in upcoming newsletters on how this can be implemented by contractors. 

Training Center Recognized as Educator of the Year

Congratulations to Dan Sperberg and the Wisconsin Operating Engineers Training Center for recognition as the Daily Reporter's Educator of the Year.  In 2017, the training center educated 95% of the registered apprentices in the state (360 courses and 7200 students!).  The Wisconsin Operating Engineers' strong belief in the value of training is clearly evident as the member-supported training trust committed $8.3M to education in 2016. 

The Wisconsin Operating Engineers Training Center is a very worthy recipient of this recognition for their commitment to the education of operators of heavy equipment today and in years to come.  Congratulations!
Industry News and Updates
Upcoming Events
Building the Future:
An Inside Look at Milwaukee Bucks Related Construction Projects
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Country Springs Hotel
2810 Golf Rd.
Pewaukee, WI

For more information, click here.
From the News Stand
WTBA Statement on the State Budget
[Madison, Wisconsin]: Pat Goss, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, released the following statement in reaction to the Joint Finance Committee's action on the transportation budget.
"The transportation budget passed by the Joint Finance Committee includes the first new revenue sources for transportation in more than a decade and the lowest level of bonding in recent years. Those are steps in the right direction.

"But this budget misses the opportunity to provide a reliable and sustainable long-term revenue source to meet the current transportation infrastructure needs in Wisconsin and does nothing to address the $1 billion shortfall in the Transportation Fund. This budget reduces funding for the State Highway Improvement Program by $245 million, or 9%, compared to the previous state budget. As a result of kicking the can down the road for at least another two years, businesses and the travelling public will see our state roads - already among the worst in the nation -- continue to get worse.

WTBA News:  State Senate Passes Budget,  Governor Walker Announces Veto Assurances

The Senate passed the state budget on a vote of 19-14.  Senator Dave Craig (R-28) was the only Republican to vote against the budget.  The budget will now go to Governor Walker for his consideration.  
Although there were no changes made by the State Senate on the floor, a group of State Senators secured veto assurances from Governor Walker.  Shortly after the vote to pass the budget, Senators Kapenga, Nass, and Stroebel released a statement listing the veto assurances from Governor Walker.  You can read their joint statement here.
Moments later, the Governor announced via press release a list of vetoes that he will make to the budget after consulting with the State Senate.  
  1. Prevailing Wage Repeal
    • Partial veto that implements an immediate repeal of prevailing wage on state projects, as opposed to the September 1, 2018, effective date put in by the Joint Finance Committee
  2. Fed-Swap
    • Partial veto that deletes the requirement that a study be conducted of the Fed-Swap.  DOT will now have the ability to do Fed-Swap without having to do the study.
  3. Transportation Projects Commission Changes
    • Partial veto that leads to removal of changes to the TPC, but leaves the independent engineering study. 
  4. Deletes the "Local Regulation of Quarry Operations" Language
  5. Deletes the Tolling Implementation Study
You can read the Governor's full statement here.  We will keep you up to date as more developments happen.  

Trump Administration Drops Local Hire Program That Would Have Employed Hundreds of Thousands of Americans
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced, that effective on August 25, it will no longer support local hire programs in cities that receive federal grants.

The DOT announced that it is withdrawing a proposed revision of a rule that - since 1988 - has prohibited the use of geographic preferences in the expenditure of federal grant funds. This change will go into effect on August 25.

AGC of Ohio Chief Debunks Prevailing Wage Detractors
By Richard J. Hobbs, Executive Vice-President - AGC Columbus

After 36 years at the helm of the Associated General Contractors of Ohio (an organization composed of open shop/nonunion and union commercial contractors throughout the state), I've heard many outrageous, false claims about significant savings by removing Ohio's prevailing-wage law. I respond to the Aug. 19 op-ed by Butch Valentine, Laurelville's volunteer fire chief, blaming the Ohio wage law for the inability to build a new fire station.

Valentine contended that the law inflates the cost of a new facility by 37.5 to 50 percent. This is an outrageous statement. Construction labor represents on average 22-25 percent of a project cost, depending on complexity. Valentine indicated that the cost of a $800,000 fire station would be increased by $300,000 to $400,000. Either his original architectural plans excluded labor costs or he was counting on volunteer construction labor.

Infrastructure, Jobs And Economic Growth
We've posted quite a bit recently about the need for streamlining the federal permitting process for energy infrastructure ( see here and  here).  An API study earlier this year estimated investments in needed natural gas and oil infrastructure could total  more than a trillion dollars and potentially generate more than 1 million jobs through 2035. That's a lot of economic potential linked to infrastructure - and in that context, President Trump's new executive order modernizing and bringing greater accountability to the federal permitting process certainly is welcome.

It coincides with release of a  new study, for North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), detailing the jobs and economic impacts of energy infrastructure construction. NABTU President Sean McGarvey and API President and CEO Jack Gerard talked about the study and America's energy infrastructure needs  during a conference call with reporters.

Legislative Alerts
Federal lawmakers seek to crack down on wage theft

Saying too many bosses steal workers' wages, congressional Democrats introduced legislation to crack down on wage theft, through stiff fines, enabling worker class action suits, and, in the worst cases, threats of criminal prosecution.

The measure is designed to particularly help low-wage workers, the lawmakers said. But overall, citing Economic Policy Institute data, they said employers steal at least $15 billion yearly from workers.

"Today, across the country, many people are putting in long hours on the job and working hard for an honest day's pay, only to have their employers cheat them out of their wages," said Senate co-sponsor Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Construction Business Group | 608-240-4170 |