Apprentice Quota Bill Requires 15 Percent of Hours for Each Trade or Craft

Bill SB 5873 requires among other things that apprentices must be used for at least 15 percent of the labor hours of each trade or craft on public works projects with apprentice utilization requirements instead of 15 percent of the total labor hours. Plus contracts awarded by state four-year institutions of higher education must include apprentice utilization provisions.

David DHondt AGC Executive Vice President joined AGC Government Affairs Director Rick Slunaker in testifying in opposition to SB 5873. Below is a copy of the comments submitted to the committee:

Madam Chair and members of the Committee

Expanding mandatory apprentice quotas is not sound public policy.

Government mandates of apprentice utilization quotas on public construction jobs have been opposed by AGC members union and open shop alike because this approach is impractical in the real world. Requiring that a fixed percentage of workers in each trade or craft on a construction jobsite be apprentices is not possible as many construction fields to not have approved apprentice programs and many construction crews are too small to accommodate such a requirement and still operate effectively.

AGC testimony has repeatedly pointed out that these proposals will not help attract workers or create new training opportunities in the construction industry. What the mandatory quota requirements of SB 5873 really do is:

• Interfere with collective bargaining. Current AGC contracts contain apprentice utilization provisions;

• Effectively exclude the majority of construction workers from the opportunity to work on public projets and limit the potential bidding pool because open shop contractors and most WMBE contractors (and their workers) dont have equal access to the required apprentice programs;

• Ignore the reality that apprentice programs are not available to all trades and crafts. Many construction specialties do not have approved apprentice programs;

• Prohibit union and open shop contractors from making critical project staffing decisions requiring that apprentices be directed at jobs to meet a quota without consideration for their training needs or the project staffing requirements;

• Possibly require that current journey level workers be laid off to make room for apprentice quotas; and

• Impose unnecessary administrative costs in complying with the reporting and waiver application processes.

Mandatory apprentice utilization quota requirements are not what they may seem. They unnecessarily restrict a contractors ability to effectively manage the workforce and deliver quality projects increase the costs of projects to taxpayers and many even cause workers to lose their jobs. Requiring that each trade and craft on a construction project employ a fixed percentage of apprentices is unfair and unworkable.