WASHINGTON – Tuesday, August 27, 2019 – A united front of business officials, labor leaders and nearly 325,000 Americans have made history by submitting the greatest number of comments ever received by the Department of Labor (DOL), all in opposition to the proposed DOL rule that would cut wages and destroy jobs in a dangerous economic experiment.
North America’s Building Trades Unions’ President Sean McGarvey issued the following statement marking the end of the formal comment period on the DOL’s proposed rule to dramatically alter the nation’s apprenticeship system with a new proposal known as Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs):
“This historic number of nearly 325,000 comments submitted by working men and women across the United States, makes it clear that construction workers don’t want the federal government to cut wages and destroy jobs in a dangerous economic experiment. The message from Michigan to Florida, from Pennsylvania to New Mexico was absolutely clear: they don’t want the swamp to undermine their standard of living and the opportunity for future generations to realize the American Dream. These Americans voted for job creation, not lower wages. They voted to end the special interests’ grip on government. They voted to strengthen communities long forgotten, not put public safety at risk. Though the comment period on this major rule occurred in the middle of the summer vacation season and no customary extensions to the time for filing comments were granted, this historic engagement by working families should remind those in the White House and the Department of Labor who are pursuing their own, narrow, ideological agenda that the voting public is now on high alert and will be watching as this proposal develops.
“Our members do not stand alone. Through this comment period, contractors, industry leaders, project owners, educators, safety and training professionals, investors, community advocates, faith leaders, environmental stewards, veterans, State Apprenticeship Agencies and overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress have spoken in one voice: IRAP’s have no place in the construction industry. For over 80 years, the Registered Apprenticeship model has served the construction industry and entire communities well by providing safe, structured learning environments where men and women from all walks of life can learn a trade and provide for their families with middle class sustaining careers. Those who truly know and advocate on behalf of the construction industry understand that IRAPs will not provide any of that but will instead only serve to advance a race to the bottom and undermine the safety and financial security of hard-working families.
“While the American people were going about their daily lives, working hard and trying to enjoy some time with their families over the summer months, a politically and ideologically motivated attack surfaced, and they responded. Moreover, while they have made their views clear on IRAP’s, they remain concerned about negative signals from the current regime at the Department of Labor led by Acting Secretary Pat Pizzella and Acting Assistant Secretary John Pallasch at the behest of ideologically motivated special interest groups. To be sure, whether they are in Wisconsin, Georgia, Minnesota or Missouri, as they learn more about this and other proposed initiatives by these actors, millions of great Americans are enraged and engaged and will be watching both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue closely to be sure the ideologues do not prevail.”