IRAP Update

From:            President Boland

Date:            November 22, 2019

RE:                IRAP Update

On June 25th, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule that would create so-called “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship” programs (IRAPs). This proposal represents an existential threat to our gold standard Registered Apprenticeship programs under the National Apprenticeship Act. BAC worked with the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) on a carefully orchestrated campaign to make certain that the Administration were aware of the serious concerns rank and file construction workers had regarding the threat IRAPs posed to the Registered Apprenticeship system. As a result of this effort, over 300,000 comments, roughly 5,000 of which came from BAC members, local union officers, JATCs, BAC employees, related entities and signatory contractors, were submitted on the proposed rule. The public comment period on this rule closed August 26th.

BAC has been watching closely as the Trump Administration has moved forward in developing a proposal on so-called “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship” programs (IRAPs). We continue to be concerned that IRAPs will undercut our proven model, by creating a parallel system using the term “Apprenticeship” but with low standards and no oversight.

Even in advance of the final rule, the current Administration has been illegally diverting at least a million dollars in funding from the Registered Apprenticeship system to IRAPs without Congressional approval. A bipartisan group of Members of Congress and the Senate sent a letter to DOL expressing “serious concerns” about the misuse of funds. Congress held hearings on the topic earlier this week. And the DOL Inspector General has an ongoing investigation into the misappropriation. While Congressional concern about the IRAP funding misappropriation is bipartisan, it is clear from their written statements that the Republican members are not concerned about the development of the IRAP program itself.

DOL has recently published its Fall 2019 Regulatory Agenda which indicates that DOL intends to issue the final rule in April of 2020. The April 2020 date represents a delay from the Administration’s original target date for issuing a final rule. The actual date of publication will have an impact on the ability of a future Administration to repeal the final rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA allows Congress to reach back 60 legislative days (days Congress is in session) and retroactively repeal final rules. The delays in finalizing the rule could help us roll back the regulation using the CRA, but the only surefire way to protect registered apprenticeship is to elect a President who is committed to preserving the existing gold standard apprenticeship structure when they take office in 2021.

We must work hard to ensure that after the 2020 election, we have an Administration in power that supports us and the Registered Apprenticeship system. For your reference as we head into a critical election year, we are providing talking points and messages for our members and we will continue to provide updates on the status of this existential threat to our programs and Union.

Thank you again for your commitment to this fight.