Ohio Building Trades rally against IRAPs in construction apprenticeships

COLUMBUS – Organized construction workers delivered the single-largest response the U.S. Department of Labor has ever received in a rule making comment period, urging the Trump administration to permanently exempt construction apprenticeships from new federal Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program rules.

Over the summer, Building Trades unions in Ohio and across the nation mobilized their members, businesses and public supporters to protect the gold-standard apprenticeship training programs that the union construction trades have privately operated and funded for a century.

According to the North America’s Building Trades Unions, nearly 325,000 comments “in opposition to the proposed DOL rule that would cut wages and destroy jobs” were submitted by the Aug. 26 deadline.

Tens of thousands of Ohio’s union electricians, plumbers and pipefitters, iron workers, cement masons, bricklayers, boilermakers, elevator operators, insulators, roofers, sheet metal workers, painters, carpenters, operating engineers, construction drivers and laborers submitted comments asking the federal government to exempt the construction industry from new IRAP apprenticeship guidelines.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the Ohio Building Trades and their signatory contractors train 82 percent of Ohio construction workers at 80 Joint-Apprenticeship Training Committee Training Centers across the state.

These tuition-free, paid training programs provide middle class wages and full benefits to Ohioans. The training and safety standards of JATC Schools would be greatly relaxed under the newly proposed federal program.

“Our members invest over $50 million annually to provide the highest-quality training to apprentices who earn living wages and full health care and retirement benefits – at zero cost to taxpayers,” ACT Ohio Executive Director Matt Szollosi said. “The training standards in union JATC programs are the most rigorous in Ohio. Building Trades apprentices enter the workforce with the safety training and certification necessary to protect themselves, their fellow workers and the public from harm.”