July 9, 2015
By LaborPress Staff
New York, NY – President Barack Obama is being urged this week to support the inclusion of apprenticeship programs in Project Labor Agreements covering federal construction projects. In a letter sent to the chief executive, Congresswoman Kathleen Rice [D-4th District] said that the federal government should be “the leader in helping develop a highly-skilled and well-trained workforce.”
“I write to urge you to take the Department of Labor’s suggestions under advisement by urging federal agencies to enter into Project Labor Agreements with contractors that graduate apprentices from certified apprenticeship programs,” Congresswoman Rice wrote in her July 8, letter to the president.
A Department of Labor report issued in 2011, urged the adoption of apprenticeship language in federal PLAs as part of an overall effort to improve safety and training.
Congresswoman Rice, a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney, further lauded the training received at certified apprenticeship programs as the “gold standard,” in addition to being a direct pathway into the building industry for women and other minorities.
“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,” Congresswoman Rice continued.
Dick O’Kane, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, echoed the fiscal benefits of union apprenticeships, while also highlighting President Obama’s prior support of organized labor programs.
“President Obama said in his State of the Union address that we have to strengthen unions, not weaken them,” O’Kane said in a statement. “Union building trades spend over $1.5 billion on apprenticeship training across America at no expense to anyone but the building trades unions.”
Bottom line, Congresswoman Rice said that boosting apprenticeship programs will also boost the 21st century economy.
"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," Congresswoman Rice wrote.