July 14, 2015
By Stephanie West
Long Island, NY – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice has called for apprenticeships to be included in Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for federal construction projects. In a letter to President Obama and U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Rice urged the President and federal agencies to enter into PLAs with contractors that graduate apprentices from certified apprenticeship programs.
Rice said that including apprenticeships in PLAs will have fiscal benefits, as apprenticeship programs are funded entirely by the labor unions that provide them and produce highly-trained, highly-skilled workers at no cost to taxpayers.
“As Secretary Perez has said, American apprenticeship programs are the gold standard in workforce development around the world,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “Apprenticeship programs produce workers who are highly skilled and highly trained in workplace safety, they help expand the number of women and other minorities in the construction workforce, and they operate at absolutely no cost to taxpayers. Including apprenticeship programs in Project Labor Agreements will save taxpayers money, improve worker safety and training, and most importantly help more Americans get good jobs and develop the skills and experience they need to thrive in the 21st century economy.”
PLAs are pre-hire collective bargaining agreements with labor unions that set the terms of employment for a construction project, including wage rates, hours and benefits. They usually include agreements to prevent strikes or work stoppages.
Utilizing union contractors improve efficiency and quality of work. With union training second to none, completion schedules are on time and worker safety is stressed so productivity is high. In addition, costs are contained in federal construction projects that are often prone to cost overruns.
“President Obama said in his State of the Union address that we have to strengthen unions, not weaken them,” said Dick O’Kane, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Union building trades spend over $1.5 billion on apprenticeship training across America at no expense to anyone but the building trades unions.”