DOL to Publish Final Rule Rescinding IRAPs in Monday’s Federal Register
In Monday’s Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will publish a final rule to rescind the previous Administration’s regulations establishing Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs).
This final rule reprsents years of work from SWACCA, which began its opposition to IRAPs back in 2017 when then-President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order on “Expanding Apprenticeship in America.” Under the Trump Administration, SWACCA worked to get DOL to exclude IRAP apprentices from Davis-Bacon coverage in the subregulatory guidance promulgated before a proposed rule was issued. SWACCA lobbied the DOL and the Administration for a construction exemption from IRAPs and reinforced this advocacy in multiple sets of written comments SWACCA submitted to the Task Force on Apprenticeship expansion in November 2018 in response to an information collection request titled, “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs Accrediting Information,” and in comments on the proposed IRAP rule in August 2019. This led to DOL initially implementing IRAPs during the pendency of a proposed rule to formalize IRAPs without opening it to construction. SWACCA then succeeded in having this construction exemption carried forward into the proposed rule. We then joined our union partners and allies in an unprecedented comment letter campaign to retain this exemption in the final rule. Throughout this time, we successfully lobbied Congress to preclude taxpayer funding for IRAPs.
While a construction exemption from IRAPs was in the final rule issued in March 2020, SWACCA pursued a full repeal of the IRAP Rule so that a future Administration could not simply remove the construction exemption and permit IRAPs in our industry. During the Biden transition after the 2020 election, SWACCA urged the new Administration to fully rescind the IRAP Rule. This early engagement bore fruit in February 2021 when the Biden Administration issued an Executive Order directing a freeze on IRAPs and directed DOL to rescind the Trump-era executive order creating IRAPs. Subsequently, the Department of Labor issued a proposed rule in November 2021 to rescind IRAPs, which SWACCA supported in comments submitted to DOL in January 2022.
The issuance of this final rule is the culmination of over four years of focused and disciplined legislative and regulatory advocacy across two administrations and is a true testament to SWACCA’s increasing stature in Washington, D.C.
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