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SWACCA Submits Comments on Labor Department Proposed Rule on “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements”

SWACCA submitted comments to the Department of Labor on its proposed rule on “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements.”

In its comments, SWACCA urged the Labor Department to refrain from expanding the Career and Technical Education apprenticeship programs contemplated under the proposed rule to include the construction industry. SWACCA noted that the Department of Labor, in promulgating the since-rescinded rule on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs), specifically excluded the construction industry from IRAPs because the data showed that “construction apprenticeship programs are simply more widespread and train more apprentices that in other sectors.” This data compelled the Labor Department to determine “that a complete exclusion of construction, but no other sector, is most consistent with the goal of encouraging widespread and well-established apprenticeship opportunities.

In addition, the letter also notes that the proposed rule’s ban on non-compete agreements could prohibit lawful, collectively bargained agreements in the construction industry that are negotiated for the benefit of workers, their unions, and signatory employees, including scholarship loan agreements, hiring halls, and apprentice rotations. SWACCA urged the Labor Department in its final rule to recognize the ability of labor organizations representing workers who authorize contributions from their paychecks to support jointly trusteed apprenticeship programs and their employer partners to protect these investments in apprenticeship training through the collective bargaining process.

SWACCA’s comment letter also raises concerns about new burdens the proposed rule would impose on employers participating in apprenticeships and changes to the definition the rule would make to basic terms, like collective bargaining agreement, journeyworker, and pre-apprenticeship program.

The full letter is available for review here.

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