IUPAT: Save Registered Apprenticeship Programs; Don’t Risk Safety and Quality with Industry’s Push for Quick, Self-Monitored Programs


For Immediate Release | November 11, 2019

Contact: John Doherty | Phone: (617) 592-2230 | Email: jdoherty@iupat.org


National Apprenticeship Week – Nov. 11-17


HANOVER, Md.– As the International Union of Painters Allied Trades and other unions and their contractor partners celebrate highly acclaimed, rigorous registered apprenticeship programs this week, the programs have never been more politicized or threatened.

The Trump administration is poised to finalize a rule that would undermine the union-contractor registered apprenticeship programs that have worked so well, and without any controversy, for years. The Labor Department has proposed creating a pro-business, anti-union Industry-Recognized Apprentice Program, or IRAPs, which would be not be required to abide by the same rigid requirements or Labor Department oversight and accountability as the current registered apprenticeships. 

Leading the push for the scaled-down IRAPs is the Associated Builders and Contractors, the largest trade group for anti-union contractors.

“IRAPs don’t come close to our proven model of rigorous training, extensive education, and a laser focus on safety, oversight and accountability. Conversely, IRAP training and education are cut to the bone to save money. Contractors should worry about IRAP-trained workers’ preparedness, especially on dangerous jobs,” IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden said.

The proposed rule is particularly concerning in light of the Department of Labor’s recent misuse of $1.1 million of funding originally set aside for registered apprenticeships but was used to promote the IRAP proposal. DOL officials admitted to diverting these funds for the Trump Administration’s IRAP proposal, even after former Labor Secretary Acosta stated otherwise to Congress.

The IRAP proposal includes an exemption for the construction industry — which was hailed by tens of thousands of people who submitted comments in the Federal Register — but the Labor Department has indicated it could reverse that in the final rule, due in December of this year. 

The IUPAT is proud to participate in the North American Building Trades Unions’ “National Save Apprenticeship Week” campaign this week to preserve the union-led registered apprenticeship model in the face of the Labor Department’s proposal. The IUPAT’s Finishing Trades Institutes across the country will be hosting events to celebrate registered apprentices. IUPAT has 102 registered apprenticeship programs in the United States and nine in Canada and has trained more than 15,000 apprentices to date.