Tell the Dept. of Labor: ‘Hands off our apprenticeships!’


Aug. 26 deadline to save union apprenticeships

North America’s Building Trades Unions are calling on every union member to submit a comment to the U.S. Dept. of Labor before Aug. 26 to save union apprenticeship programs. Comment to:

Proposed rule would decimate training, labor standards


THE PROPOSED IRAP (Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs) rule would put business groups in charge of their own apprenticeship programs would erode the standards that have made union apprentice training programs so successful.

The Trump Department of Labor has launched an attack on union Registered Apprenticeship Programs and there are only a few days left to stop it.

A proposed new rule from the Department of Labor (DOL) would decimate training and labor standards 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 industry-backed rule change is a direct attack on the rigorous skills and safety training of union Registered Apprenticeship Programs – standards set and enforced by the DOL – and would provide non-union contractors with another means of steering workers away from union membership.

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.

Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trades Unions, the AFL-CIO umbrella group representing 15 individual building trades unions, said in a statement the industry-recognized apprenticeship programs “have no place in the construction industry.”

“Construction and construction maintenance are, by their very nature, among the most dangerous industries,” McGarvey said. “Workers perform difficult physical labor, and are often exposed to extreme temperatures, heavy machinery, toxic substances and hazards related to oncoming traffic on road and bridge projects. To guard against these inherent dangers and promote first-rate work, workers must receive the highest quality education and training. And the building trades’ Registered Apprenticeship Programs provide just that.”

The Department of Labor is asking the public for feedback on this misguided proposal through Aug. 26.

NABTU 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

Laborers’ International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan noted that the building trades and its industry partners spend a total of $1.6 billion per year – without taxpayer dollars – to train thousands of men and women at 1,600 registered training facilities across the nation.

“These registered apprenticeships have helped millions of Americans start careers in construction through rigorous training programs that ensure workers are skilled and safe on the job,” O’Sullivan said. “IRAPs would be redundant in an industry that has already built such a successful system to meet workforce needs and help so many workers build a pathway to the middle class.”

“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.”

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.

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 said.

Take action to help save union apprenticeships by submitting a comment to the U.S. Department of Labor at



  1. All this will accomplish is unsafe,unskilled workers. Why take away a person’s chance to get paid while they learn a trade? It doesn’t make sense.

  2. People need to WAKE UP this one more step for Dumpy Trumpy to put thru a National RTW plan When union standards are compromised and destroyed what do you think will happen to the rest of the non union working class?
    This is just one more way the rich get richer and the working class falls to poverty


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