Brindisi joins local labor leaders to demand administration scrap proposed apprenticeship changes

Rep. Anthony Brindisi

With local labor leaders, Brindisi outlines plan to stop administration’s dangerous proposal dead in its tracks

Congressman Anthony Brindisi (NY-22) joined local labor leaders and union workers to announce their opposition to the Department of Labor’s proposed apprenticeship rule changes.

Earlier this summer, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule which would take the first step in creating industry-regulated apprenticeship programs. This rule would dramatically alter apprenticeships across the country. These potential industry-regulated apprenticeships would undercut regulated union and non-union apprenticeships that have led to good-paying jobs for generations.

Additionally, the rule change could endanger veterans by allowing for the creation of scam apprenticeships that could defraud veterans of their G.I. bill benefits. Currently, veterans use labor-sponsored apprenticeship programs like Helmets to Hardhats to find good-paying jobs in the trades.

“This rule change threatens our veterans and union workers across Upstate New York,” Brindisi said. “Labor-sponsored apprenticeships have provided a pipeline for good-paying jobs and helped many veterans find work in the trades. We need to be expanding access to workforce development and training but this is not the way to do it. I let the Department of Labor know this rule change is a non-starter and I urge all friends of labor to do the same.”

Brindisi called on the Administration to scrap the rule change and protect union jobs. He sent a letter to Acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella urging him to reconsider.

Local labor officials praised Brindisi for standing up for working families.

“I want to thank congressman Brindisi for standing with labor on this important issue,” said Building and Construction Trades Area representative Tom Zalocha. “This apprenticeship rule change could threaten a powerful pipeline for young people to get good-paying jobs in the trades.”

The comment period for the proposed rule change is open until August 26th. The public can submit comments on the rule HERE.

The text of the letter Brindisi sent to Acting Secretary Pizella is below:

Dear Acting Secretary Pizzella,

I write with great concern regarding the Department of Labor’s proposed rule published on June 25, 2019, which would allow for the creation of “industry-recognized” apprenticeship programs and “Standards Recognition Entities” (SREs) (RIN 1205-AB85). While I agree that we must work to expand high-quality apprenticeship programs, I do not believe that circumventing the Department of Labor’s long-standing certification process would accomplish this goal. I am concerned that these new programs would put populations including veterans at risk and would jeopardize New York’s oversight over apprenticeship programs within our state.

New York State is home to 740,000 veterans, more than 100,000 of whom are veterans of the post-9/11 conflicts. As a Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am proud that so many of these American heroes have chosen New York as their home. Many of these veterans have utilized their hard-earned post-9/11 GI benefits to further their job opportunities, either through higher education or through job training and apprenticeship programs. The state and federal governments together have created an apprenticeship system where veterans can use their GI benefits to improve their job prospects without fear of being scammed. I was troubled to see that the proposed rule does not explicitly preclude the possibility of these new industry-regulated apprenticeship programs accepting veterans’ benefits.

I am also concerned that these new industry-regulated programs would completely bypass the successful state apprenticeship agency system. By setting up a new “parallel apprenticeship system,” New York would not have oversight of the apprenticeship programs operating within our borders. These new programs would be wholly unaccountable to the state government, answering only to the new “SREs.” When operating alongside proven apprenticeship programs regulated by New York’s State Department of Labor, these new industry-regulated programs could appear indistinguishable. Veterans and other workers would be largely unaware if they are signing up for a safe, state-approved program, or a program without the protections provided by Registered Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship programs are an important element in creating a skilled workforce. Good-paying jobs are available right now to workers through the training programs offered by unions and non-union sponsors and certified by the Department of Labor. However, by opening the door to industry-regulated apprenticeship programs, the Department of Labor is not only abandoning their statutory responsibility through the National Apprenticeship Act to safeguard the welfare of apprentices, they are jeopardizing the successes we have found under the current system. We should grow and improve the vetted apprenticeships we have now, not set up a new parallel system. I oppose this proposed rule and encourage you to reconsider this program.

Sincerely,

Anthony Brindisi, Member of Congress

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