Breaking: Construction Industry Exempted From IRAPs

March 11, 2020

Brothers and sisters,
Our collective actions in support of exempting the construction industry from Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) made a difference.
In 2017, the Trump Administration issued Executive Order No. 13801 seeking to establish a Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion to increase opportunities in industries outside of the construction sector. At the time of the announcement, the training programs affiliated with the North American Building Trades Unions were recognized as the standard to meet.
The concept of Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) was introduced to the Task Force, which was unanimously recommended to exclude the military and construction industry.  Initially, the Trump Administration appeared to support the integrity of registered apprenticeships and not undermine the successful unionized construction industry programs.  IRAP’s would have had a disastrous effect on current registered apprenticeship programs and their long-standing infrastructure to provide a skilled, safe and dependable workforce.  The unregulated and low road competitors would also affect industry standards, quality, working conditions and compensation.
It was initially designed as a boost to expand the registered apprenticeship framework in industries that need to prepare occupation related curriculum, classroom and on the job training.  The Administration reversed course and moved away from the committee report and their original commitment to the construction industry.
When the Department of Labor requested public comment, our industry answered the call and your voices were heard. Thanks to your input, joined with the collective power of over 350,000 of your fellow building tradespersons and allies, we were able to prevail. Because of your advocacy, the final rule issued earlier this week by the US Department of Labor reaffirmed the exemption of the construction industry.
Make no mistake, this success is due to the members who launched an unprecedented grassroots drive.  Your response to the public comment period made an impact and you have been heard.
We joined forces with our industry partners who rely on our expertise and thank them for their support, knowing the integrity of our industry will continue to be protected.
At the same time, please stay tuned, because our adversaries, such as the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) are reaching out to their allies in a bid to sue through Federal courts. A challenge is expected soon.  We will continue to keep you updated if and when this occurs.
Thank you for your commitment to apprenticeship and the union construction industry.
Joseph Sellers, Jr.
SMART General President