St. Paul, MN – In response to a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rule, ninety-four Minnesota legislators, including all four legislative leaders, submitted comments that expressed their commitment to Registered Apprenticeship and their concern about allowing Industry Recognized Apprenticeship (IRAP) programs to undermine the quality and integrity of Registered Apprenticeship training programs in the construction industry.
The bipartisan group of legislators from across the state affirmed the value of Registered Apprenticeships in their letter to the DOL saying: “There are currently over 10,000 Registered Apprentices in Minnesota in more than 50 privately funded construction Registered Apprenticeship programs training to be our State’s future plumbers, electricians, iron workers, crane operators, laborers, carpenters and other highly skilled trade workers.”
The letter also stated: “Minnesota contractors, business owners, and communities rely on Registered Apprenticeship programs to train our future construction workers to grow our State’s economy and ensure our safety.”
The legislators also warned that if IRAPs are “expanded to include the construction industry, the proposed rules would undermine the integrity and drive down the training and labor standard in construction Registered Apprenticeship programs.”
Noting that implementing IRAPs could put the public at risk, legislators stressed that “having the safest roads, bridges, schools and utilities requires the best trained workers with the highest level of skill” is crucial for Minnesota.
“We are thankful for the support of the Minnesota legislature for construction Registered Apprenticeship programs,” said Jessica Looman, Executive Director of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council. “The legislature made it clear that Minnesota is not willing to jeopardize the quality of its construction and the safety and security of its workforce.”
The DOL received more than 325,000 comments from across the country supporting Registered Apprenticeship programs in the construction industry. The DOL is expected to publish their final rule regarding IRAP late this or early next year.