Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And, Speaking Of Apprentices ...

Just when you thought the water was safe ... BAM! On August 28, 2007, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced that effective immediately, the New York State Department of Labor (the "NYSDOL") is suspending the development and approval of apprenticeship training programs in all trades. The addition of new, participating employers to existing programs is also being suspended. The entire press release can be found here. Thanks to Ben Brubeck for the head's up.

What does this all mean? Essentially, it confirms what I thought might happen when I wrote "My Kingdom For An Apprenticeship Program!" this past June. Specifically, I opined that a freeze on approving and registering new apprenticeship programs could give those which have them in place already (i.e., union contractors) a decided, and perhaps permanent advantage over their non-union competitors. I hate to say I told you so, BUT!

This is really, REALLY bad news for small to mid-sized contractors that are not affiliated with a union as well as for New York taxpayers in general. Indeed, those contractors without the programs already in place cannot bid on construction projects in the ever increasing number of municipalities and school districts that require contractors to maintain State-approved apprenticeship training programs and to use registered apprentices as a condition to bidding on and being awarded public work. In addition, such contractors cannot seek approval from the NYSDOL to start an apprenticeship training program during the period of the State's moratorium which, according to the press release, can last up to one year. Can anyone say "union monopoly?" Quite frankly, this entire episode appears to wreak of political payback. The bottom line is that the pool of qualified public works contractors has just decreased markedly. Such a lack of competition is likely to result in higher bid numbers which will probably increase the cost of public works construction and result in local tax hikes to pay for public projects.

As expected, organized labor is giddy about all this, particularly since the Governor announced the freeze at the Long Island Federation of Labor's Constitutional Convention. Sheesh, talk about pandering to a constituency in its own back yard. So, there ya have it folks ... and, I think this is only the beginning. May the saints preserve us all.

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