Pierce County is embarking on a $300 million expansion of the Chambers Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. This is great news! It means a large public works construction project is moving forward and that capacity for future development is being secured. That said Pierce County Public Works may at some point review the idea of attaching a small mandatory apprenticeship quota on the project. AGC has long opposed this approach and we have weighed-in with policymakers.
More About Quotas
Government mandates of apprentice utilization quotas of any size 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.
Quotas will not help attract workers or create new training opportunities in the construction industry. What the mandatory quota requirements 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 projects and limit the potential bidding pool because open shop contractors and most Women and Minority Business Enterprise (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 (maybe by millions) and may 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.