Just days are left to help save the IBEW’s apprenticeships from greedy nonunion contractors who want to cut corners on training.
Monday, Aug. 26, is the deadline to comment on the Department of Labor’s pending Apprenticeship Rule. An IBEW website makes it easy to add your voice and counter the industry’s profit-driven demands to run inferior programs.
“There’s not a moment to waste,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said, appealing to members and their families. “We need your help immediately.”
The IBEW’s inside and outside construction apprenticeships and similar journeyman training through other unions are registered with the DOL and meet or exceed stringent standards.
The proposed rule would create IRAPs, or Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, that would give employers wide latitude to decide how many hours of instruction to provide, what the curriculum will include, and how much, or little, apprentices must achieve to graduate.
Currently, the construction industry is excluded from the rule, but that will change if anti-union contractors have their way at the end of the public comment period.
“Brothers and sisters in the building trades depend on each other’s advanced skills and commitment to safety,” Stephenson said. “The workforce could change in detrimental ways if the construction industry isn’t exempted permanently from the new rule.”
IRAPs also threaten workers’ livelihoods, with nonunion contractors able to pay apprentices as little as minimum wage. On federal projects, they wouldn’t be bound by Davis-Bacon wage progression rules or journeyman-apprentice ratio requirements.
“Low-road contractors who don’t have to comply with wage and ratio rules will have an unfair advantage in bidding,” Stephenson said. “We can’t let that happen.”
Click now to go to SaveIBEWApprenticehips.org, which provides a step-by-step guide for adding your comments.
Stephenson urges both inside and outside construction journeymen and apprentices to speak out, but also IBEW members in all branches and their families.
“Everyone has a stake in this,” he said. “All of us can attest to how much safer we are when roads and bridges, schools, office towers and other projects are built with the best-trained, highest-skilled union labor.”