Unions to Dept. of Labor: Don’t Jeopardize Apprenticeships

Our Building and Construction Trades brothers and sisters are fighting to preserve union apprenticeship programs in light of a pending federal rule from the Department of Labor that would allow Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs).

This would allow businesses to create their own so-called apprenticeship programs, with minimal to no standards, without oversight, lower pay and worker protections.

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Work in the building and construction industry is physically demanding, often surrounded by heavy equipment, toxic and hazardous substances, and extreme temperatures. Safety and proper training are crucial in this industry. According to the IBEW, “IRAPs are likely to exclude journeyman-apprentice ratio requirements, jeopardizing safety by opening federal projects up to an influx of low-wage apprentices”.

IBEW President Lonnie Stephenson, “the IBEW and our brothers and sisters in the building trades already run the most exemplary training programs in the country, building a workforce that commands industry-wide respect and is paid accordingly. . . the workforce could change in detrimental ways if the construction industry isn’t exempted permanently from the new rule”.

North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey issued the following statement: “Based on our 100 years of experience running the world’s most successful job training model, we know what works to meet specific demands of employers and an entire industry, while also providing workers with pathways to the middle class. Our $1.6 billion annual investment, funded jointly with our industry partners without any tax dollars, trains hundreds of thousands of men and women at 1,600 registered training facilities located in every state and almost every Congressional district”. 

The period for public comment closes on August 26. Make your voice heard!