Construction Industry Exempt From Department of Labor’s Final Apprenticeship Rule

The Department of Labor published its final rule on Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs) in March, exempting the construction industry, a move supported by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and the Iron Workers. Apprenticeships that train workers for construction jobs may continue to participate in the separate Registered Apprenticeship Program.

IRAPs are meant to address America’s skills gap and expand the apprenticeship model to new industries. The rule establishes a process for recognizing Standards Recognition Entities (SREs), qualified third-party entities, which would work with employers to establish, recognize and monitor industry programs that provide apprenticeships.

Anton Ruesing, director of the IUPAT’s International Finishing Trades Institute, told USGlass magazine of several reasons why the construction exemption should be made permanent in the final IRAP rule.

“If an organization wanted to create an apprenticeship program they could do that right now,” he said, adding that the current registered apprenticeship program provides protections for apprentices that would not be guaranteed under the IRAP rule. Ruesing said that apprentices under the IRAP rule would not be guaranteed a graduated wage scale and could be made to pay money to participate in a program. He also pointed out that the IRAPs would not have government oversight but would instead be overseen by industry third parties.

Iron Workers general president Eric Dean applauds the decision to exclude the construction industry from the IRAP rule.

“This important protection for quality training was won by the nearly 16,000 ironworkers who joined with workers from other trades, socially responsible companies and elected officials from both parties to keep IRAPs out of the construction industry,” he says. “The Iron Workers will defend the integrity of the construction exemption and remain vigilant to the threat posed by IRAPs to manufacturing workers, such as the thousands of American steel fabricators in our union.”

The final rule is effective May 11, 2020.

Anchor-Ventana Launches First Registered Apprenticeship Program in Texas

One way to find qualified glaziers is to train them yourself. That’s why Anchor-Ventana Glass, a non-union glazing contractor in Round Rock, Texas, created its own registered apprenticeship program, the first of its kind for non-union glaziers in Texas*.

“Texas has licensing for plumbers and electricians, but it’s not so for those in the glass industry. We wanted to create a critical path to gain credentials for glaziers to distinguish themselves at a higher level and establish a base line of compensation,” says Felix Munson, president of Anchor-Ventana. “We inquired through a regional channel to get assistance in understanding the U.S. Department of Labor criteria for establishing our own apprenticeship program.”

“This is a way of increasing the pipeline of qualified glaziers. We weren’t finding them on the streets so we had to find a way to create them,” adds Dennis Bevans, general manager. “We already had a good training program in place but we saw some deficiencies. We took what we were doing well and added an educational component to it to create a program for someone with no experience.”

The result is a three-year apprenticeship program. Bevans says it’s focused on the area north of Austin, Texas.

“We’re not planning to go too far out of the radius of work we do locally,” he says, explaining that the expense involved in setting up an apprenticeship program is time, rather than money.

“For the apprenticeship we’re looking for someone who can commit. It’s different from someone walking through the front door looking for work. We want to attract someone looking for a career,” he says. “This gives a viable opportunity to people not considering college as a path for their future career. Apprenticeship programs give people a chance to get education without student debt, to earn while learning.”

The company intentionally didn’t put its current employees through the program in order to get a fair assessment of the recruitment and training process. Bevans says the company might expand the program later once they’ve had people go through it.

Munson would recommend creating an apprenticeship program for companies interested in developing qualified candidates because it requires a full team commitment to training.

Munson adds that this program dovetails with the North American Contractor Certification and Architectural Glass and Metal Technician certification programs.

*Editor’s note: While Anchor-Ventana is the first non-union company to create a registered apprenticeship program in Texas, union programs have been available. The International of Union of Painters and Allied Trades has been training glazing apprentices in the state for years.

Giroux Glass Opens New Location in Arizona

In response to a heightened level of construction activity currently taking place in Arizona, glazing contractor Giroux Glass has expanded its reach to the state by opening a new location in Phoenix. While the physical location is new, the company has had a business license in the state since 2007 when it provided glazing for the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

The new facility is more than 5,000 square feet and will offer the same glass and metal panel work offered by Giroux at its other locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Fresno, Calif. The company plans to expand into other specialty work as it increases its field labor pool. Its new facility has the ability to leverage other Giroux Glass facilities’ resources and crews as well.

“Conversations and planning for expansion into Arizona have been ongoing since 2014. As with any decision to expand, overall assessment of our business and the timing of the project were of top priority. Between 2014 and 2017, our main focus was to build out a top-notch team in other locations and transition into 100% employee ownership. We successfully made those transitions and moved forward with expansion into Arizona only after we re-evaluated the market and positioned the right team to lead it,” says CEO Nataline Lomedico.

The company is holding off on securing additional fabrication space until it has enough large-scale projects to warrant a move to a larger facility. However, company leadership plans to expand to a bigger, more centrally-located property in the near future. The Phoenix office will service the entire state, but its primary focus will be on the major metro areas of Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff.

Marty McKinley is the new location’s general manager and Duane Stanley is project manager.

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