Apprentice Bill Improved but Still Problematic

Legislation regarding apprentices has been improved but is still being opposed by AGC.

The original Bill SB 5873 would have required that apprentices 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 the current requirement of 15 percent of the total labor hours.

This per trade or craft element has been stripped from the bill thanks in part to the testimony provided by AGC Executive Vice President David DHondt and Government Affairs Director Rick Slunaker before the Senate Committee on Labor Commerce and Consumer Protection. (To see the Feb. 19 AGC Works article on this testimony click here.)

AGC is opposing the substitute legislation (SSB 5873) even though it eliminates the 15 percent for each trade or craft requirement. Remaining in the bill is an expansion of current apprenticeship requirements to higher education construction - a move that is seen by AGC as an incremental step toward widespread expansion.

AGC is also very concerned about the enforcement mechanisms included in the bill.

According to the legislation a bidder on a public works project subject to apprenticeship utilization requirements will be disqualified as not responsible if the bidder was found out of compliance in the one-year period preceding the date of the bid solicitation for working apprentices out of ratio without appropriate supervision or outside their approved work processes.

These same reasons are added as an additional violation to the list of violations for which a contractor can be barred from bidding on a public works contract.

The bill would require the state Apprentice Council to take action against an individual employer rather than against an apprentice committee which may not be effectively enforcing its standards in these areas. The Council does not deal directly with individual employers and this approach lessens the involvement of the local apprenticeship committee in assuring that employers are complying with program standards. AGC believes a better approach would be to require apprentice committees to bear some of the responsibility for compliance

The violations and penalties section of the bill is excessive said Slunaker. This is particularly true when you consider that ‘out of scope disagreements are often between the crafts themselves with contractors caught in the middle.

The revised bill has been passed out of the Commerce Labor and Consumer Protection Committee and how sits in the Senate Rules Committee. Contact Rick Slunaker at 360-352-5000 with questions or comments about the bill.