Unions and Contractors Oppose "Federal Aid Swap"

May 13, 2019

Unions and contractors in the Quad Cities are trying to protect jobs and the local economy. Monday they announced their opposition to what they call the "Federal Aid Swap" - where the Iowa DOT "swaps" or converts federal dollars into state dollars, to avoid federal requirements for fair wages, environmental protection, and buying American.

Michelle DeCap, speaking for the Associated Contractors of the Quad Cities, says this state policy encourages outside contractors to bid for work here. 

"When this happens these outside contractors bring their own employees - my employees, your employees, your neighbors, your relatives, these people behind me - will sit at home and be unemployed."

She also says this eliminates rules that encourage minority and women-owned businesses. 

Jerry Lack, director of the Tri-City Building Trades Council, calls the Federal Aid Swap a "shell game."

"They were put in place for a reason - the environmental regulations were put in place to insure we don't damage our environment, the prevailing wage insures people are paid a fair wage with good benefits. And the state of Iowa is basically playing a game to avoid these."

Regional transportation committees in Iowa can award contracts and avoid the stricter federal rules unless they specifically decide to "opt out" and follow the federal requirements.

In the Quad Cities, that decision will be made by the Transportation Policy Committee of the Bi-State Regional Commission. So far in Iowa, only a similar committee in Johnson County has decided to "opt out."