The Oakland County Board of Commissioners and new Democrat county executive, Dave Coulter, approved a new purchasing policy for county construction projects which will no longer require low bids to award government contracts.
According to Oakland County Commission, many “quality bidder” considerations should be taken into account before awarding public projects. Cost is no longer the most important factor. According to the new ordinance, “price shall not be weighted more than 30%” of the overall bid evaluation.
The new policy is called the “Responsible Bidder and Best Value Bid Evaluation Standards for Construction Projects.” Under this policy, bidders’ “value” is emphasized over price. Like most union-sponsored legislation, the devil is in the details.
These qualifications include, but are not limited to quality, references, experience, proposed schedule, safety, time and cost. But most concerning, construction workers are required to participate in a federally-approved apprenticeship program registered with the Department of Labor.
Beyond licensed electricians, it’s rare and unnecessary for other trades like drywaller, painters, carpenters, roofers, and others to be enrolled in a federal apprenticeship program. And federal programs like these don’t actually use test results, demonstrated skill, or any evaluations other than time-on-the-job to measure the quality of a worker. Instead, this misguided policy is not designed to measure quality at all, but rather eliminate competition against union companies that are otherwise unable to compete with other contractors’ prices.
This policy circumvents Michigan law that forbids union-only agreements by local municipalities. They use primarily union-based practices as a proxy for measuring “quality.” Union-only initiatives have recently been uncovered in other areas, in one case, requiring all workers to be trained in the union MUST safety program when equivalent or more robust safety programs are available to Merit Shop contractors.
ABC exists both to inform you of shady new government standards like these and works to preserve your right to bid on all projects, regardless of union affiliation.