‘Fox guarding hen house’ rule would let contractors, industry set their own standards
By TIM ROWDEN
The Trump Department of Labor is proposing decimating training and labor standards in Registered Apprenticeship Programs across the country by establishing new certification requirements for Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) that put non-union contractors and industry groups in charge of crafting new non-registered apprenticeship programs with minimal government oversight.
The new proposed industry-backed rule is a direct attack on union Registered Apprenticeship Programs, which provide rigorous skills and safety training and must meet strict requirements set and enforced by the Department of Labor (DOL). The proposed IRAP rule would provide contractors with another means of steering workers away from union membership, telling workers they don’t need to be a union member to receive training.
Legitimate professional trade associations — the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the Sheet Metal And Air Conditioning Contractors National Association (SMACNA) – have come out strongly against the administration’s proposal.
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY ALREADY HAS QUALITY UNION APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS
“The construction industry already has quality union apprenticeship programs that work,” said John Stiffler, executive secretary-treasurer of the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council. “Registered union apprenticeship programs ensure the workers rebuilding our infrastructure have the highest level of training, keeping our communities and families safe. They work for employers; they work for workers and their families; and they work for our communities.
“We have standards to ensure safe, quality work. This proposal, like so many from this administration, seeks to put business groups in charge and would erode the very standards that have made these programs so successful,” Stiffler said. “We have to let the Department of Labor know that working people won’t stand for this.”
John Gaal, retired director of training and workforce development for the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council, said, “It’s the fox guarding the henhouse.”
With 36 years’ experience in apprenticeship training, first as an instructor and later as director of workforce training and development, Gaal understands every aspect of the apprenticeship process and said this proposal “will destroy a good pathway for a lifetime career for kids not wanting to go to college.”
TELL THE DOL ‘HANDS OFF’ UNION APPRENTICESHIPS
The Department of Labor is asking the public for feedback on this misguided proposal through Aug. 26.
North America’ Building Trades Unions (NABTU), the AFL-CIO umbrella group representing 15 individual building trades unions, is calling on all union members to contact the DOL and voice their opposition to the proposed changes.
Tell the Labor Department to keep its hands off union Registered Apprenticeship Programs by submitting a comment at https://www.saveconstructionapprenticeships.org/#/34. Scroll down the page to fill-in your information and submit a comment.
KEY PATHWAYS TO GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT
Apprenticeships are key pathways to gainful employment, training workers for highly skilled jobs while paying living wages and providing health care.
NABTU’s world-class registered apprenticeship programs train U.S. workers to become highly skilled, six-figure-earning construction workers through a debt-free, technologically-advanced education.
These union earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship programs pay family-sustaining wages and provide health care coverage and retirement benefits.
DOL’S PROPOSAL WOULD DRIVE DOWN STANDARDS
These union-funded Registered Apprenticeship Programs, and the workers who benefit from them, are directly in the crosshairs of the Trump administration.
The Trump DOL proposal would drive down standards for the world-class apprenticeship programs that workers and industries depend on and jeopardize good jobs and safety standards in the construction industry.
“If we don’t act soon, before Aug. 26, Labor will regret the economic outcome for decades to come,” Gaal stressed.
Take action to help save union apprenticeships by submitting a comment to the U.S. Department of Labor at https://www.saveconstructionapprenticeships.org/#/34. Scroll down the page to fill-in your information and submit a comment.
Affiliate websites to Save Our Apprenticeships