1. Administration Seeks Changes to Registered Apprenticeships
The Trump Administration continues to further develop its concept of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) as it works towards bridging the skills gap for industries that lack a high percentage of registered apprenticeships. These IRAPs would be certified by a third party and would only loosely be overseen by the federal government. While the earliest draft proposals of this apprenticeship design suggest there would be a construction industry exemption from these IRAPs, some news outlets have begun to suggest otherwise.
NECA’s Look Ahead: NECA continues to be in daily contact with stakeholders across Washington, D.C. to ensure that there is a construction industry exemption. This is due in part to the high percentage of registered apprenticeships in the electrical construction industry and our historically proven capability to proficiently train our workforce. We anticipate the proposed rule to be released in the coming weeks and will continue to notify NECA members of any significant developments in the space.
2. Mulvaney Moves to End Roadblocks at Department of Labor
Within the past few weeks, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has been tasked with reviewing the policies and agenda of the Department of Labor (DOL). His informal appointment to this role comes on the heels of the DOL shedding staffers accused of slow playing or being overly judicious with the agency’s agenda. Mr. Mulvaney, who is renowned for working at break-neck speeds, is likely to force many of the conversations regarding rule-making into action. He has already put into place a formal protocol for rule making and settling disputes within the DOL, both of which end with him as the ultimate decision maker.
NECA’s Look Ahead: As the Department of Labor establishes a new method for interacting and making internal decisions, NECA intends to remain steadfast in offering our expertise to better inform their staff. NECA looks forward to working with the DOL as the agency begins to implement much of its regulatory agenda and offer our insights throughout that process.
3. Study Shows Decrease in the Hiring of Illegal Workers
A recent study published by Syracuse University revealed that in an 11-month period from April 2018 to March 2019, only 11 individuals were charged with hiring illegal workers. No companies were charged with knowingly hiring illegal workers who often compete at a severely reduced wage. The number of prosecutions is more than half the rate found in 2009 and is drastically less than the quadrupled workplace enforcement rate promised by former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Horman.
NECA’s Look Ahead: The hiring of illegal workforces and the improper classification of those workers goes hand-in-hand and grants dishonest contractors the ability to undercut businesses who follow the law. No contractor should be placed at a competitive disadvantage for their work because they are willing to abide by the law. NECA continues to work with lawmakers to address these issues and others relating to employment verification and reducing bad actors in our industry.