The Value of Apprenticeships
“Since time immemorial, people have been transferring skills from one generation to another in some form of apprenticeship. Four thousand years ago, the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi provided that artisans teach their crafts to youth. The records of Egypt, Greece, and Rome from earliest times reveal that skills were still being passed on in this fashion. When youth in olden days achieved the status of craft workers, they became important members of society.”1
Here in New York City there are a number of construction projects under way or soon to be developed. Having properly trained and skilled labor to support the industry serves the city well.
Those joining the workforce can begin a career to sustain a family and contribute to society becoming a trained worker in New York. Apprenticeship programs provide years of classroom training and on the job learning, working with experienced tradesmen. These programs provide hands on training lead by experienced and qualified instructors along with support materials and testing to ensure the material covered provide evidence of learning. In addition the programs provide classes to obtain the required New York City Department of Buildings and New York State licenses and certificates.
A bill No. 1447 has been introduced as a Local Law to amend the New York City building code, in relation to training and qualifications of persons engaged in the construction and demolition of buildings. There is a need to ensure workers on construction sites are properly trained to work safely to protect themselves co-workers and citizens that work, live or pass by construction sites. This bill will amend New York City building code by adding new definitions to read as below:
A worker who is employed and registered to learn a skilled trade through a New York state department of labor or United States department of labor registered apprenticeship program.
A plan containing all terms and conditions for the qualification, recruitment, selection, employment and training of apprentices, and registered with the New York state department of labor or the United States department of labor.
BONA FIDE CONSTRUCTION SITE SAFETY TRAINING PROGRAM
A training program authorized and approved by the commissioner for the trade or craft for which a person is employed that provides a minimum number of required hours for completion in safety related instruction and a minimum number of required hours of on the job training commensurate with, at least, one year of apprenticeship training in accordance with the standards set forth in section 815 of the New York state labor law and paragraph (4) of subdivision (c) of section 601.5 of the New York codes, rules and regulations.
More information on the bill here
Today there is an active push to not require that workers on jobs have been trained through an apprenticeship program. Opponents state that requiring that workers on construction sites will block residents from opportunities that were meant to enhance their lives. Their contention is that project labor agreements between local union construction trades and New York City Housing Authority violates HUD’s regulation 24 cfr 135 aka Section 3.
In the case of New York City Iron Workers there is a three year program where participants are residents. The program provides participants an opportunity free of charge to learn a trade. The program is open to all and among its members you will find minorities, women, immigrants and veterans. Those interested in joining follow a public notice to register for a test, the top 200 are given a physical test and are enrolled in the program.
Recently New York City Iron workers locals 40 and 361 apprentices contacted their local councilmen in support of bill 1447 to ensure workers on construction sites have been trained in programs certified by NYC DOB.
“I am currently an Apprentice in the NYC Iron Workers union as well as a member of the US Army National Guard and I honestly believe, along with many other workers that I’ve come across in my year in the trade, that these Apprenticeship training programs around the city help families and are a huge benefit to the city and its workers and are a fundamental part of having a SAFE and effective work environment.
It’s been cited to us by many of our instructors that “safety and knowledge of our trade” are huge priorities in getting a project done safely and efficiently. OSHA 10 by itself is simply a small portion of what it takes to be an effective worker within certain trades of construction.
Just like any other profession, whether it be a police officer, a nurse, or a pilot, proper training is a requirement and it’s important for the sake of people’s safety and mortality that contractors and the city not cut corners when it comes to proper training. Ordinary people may not be concerned with concerns within construction, but people can die, if they are not well trained and if corners are cut. This message comes from a place of ethics and principle and not monetary benefit. With this said we, hope that you make your decision based on people’s lives and safety and not exclusively on profits.
Please express this support of the 1447 Apprentice Bill with your colleagues and help make New York a SAFE place to work.” – Daren McMillian
“My name is Jonathan Beltran I lived in Brooklyn New York for the past 26 years and been in the construction business for the past seven years. When I first was introduced to the business I worked for a company that gave me no training or knowledge about the job all I was required to have was a 10 hour osha training card and that made me qualified to be on the site and work alongside men that also did not have enough knowledge to train me or teach me the right way. I’ve worked with them for 4 years and witnessed a couple of ugly accidents that could have been prevented with training and knowledge. I can testify that a 10 hour OSHA certificate DOES NOT make someone qualified to work safely and professionally on a jobsite.
Now I am a second year Apprentice and received enough knowledge and education to understand the rules and regulation to work in New York City. I also can say I now just don’t have a job I have a career. I have a career that provided health benefits for my family and I and provides fair wages to have an honest living in New York City. It provides a retirement so the government does not have to subside as I get older. And the best part about it is that all the training I received is free, paid by unions and contractors. With this being said I honestly hope you guys can really take into consideration that by passing the Apprenticeship Bill 1447 that it WILL SAVE INNOCENT LIVES. THANK YOU, for your time and consideration of this mater.” – Jonathan Beltran
“…….I have been a local 40 member for about 18 months and I can honestly say it has changed my life.
As someone who had worked non-union for a short time prior to joining local 40, I can tell you that being part of an apprentice program makes a huge difference. While I worked non-union I saw companies hiring individuals who didn’t have any experience in the trade or even construction for that matter.
The masonry company I worked for used scaffolding a lot of the time, and many of the people I worked with had never been on a scaffold or even certified to be one. We were not offered any formal training at any point, and never discussed safety procedures for the work being performed. We pretty much just did what we were told at the moment.
It was with this brief experience that I understood the importance of unions and the Apprentice programs they offer. Unions provide their members with the knowledge and technical skills to perform the work at hand. Because of that I feel prepared to do the work I do and know that I will be working safely.
I urge you to pass Apprenticeship bill 1447, as it would provide safer work conditions for thousands of city workers. Thank you for your time and consideration of this matter.” – Julian Rodriguez, 2nd Year Apprentice, Local 40
“My name is Sheray Miller and I would like to express what the apprenticeship program means to me. The apprenticeship program is amazing. It saved my life. The program gave me a chance to have a better future. It showed me that I can actually achieve something for myself and my family.
I have one birth child and two adopted children from a family member and a friend. I did not want them to be in the system, so I decided to raise them. I hoped to give them a better future. I lived in Webster projects around guns, drugs and rats. My life consisted of my mail getting stolen, walking pass people sleeping in the building or my son helping me count change to buy milk. I struggled day by day working non union jobs. I had no health benefits and I worked from check to check. I was never able to save and at times didn’t have enough for groceries. I always wanted to go away to college or a trade school to learn a trade, which would lead me into a career in construction. However, I could not afford it. This is not what I wanted for my life or my kids. I never gave up.
When I learned about the apprenticeship program with the iron workers, my life changed. I finally felt as though I have a chance at a better life. I am able to earn a good wage, save, have health benefits and get a free education. I finally felt as though I was not stuck. I don’t have to settle for this life. Now with this opportunity I can finally live My American Dream. I finally got my driver’s license and I am driving. My son is in a better school and I am planning on purchasing a house by next year.
Now, I can live life, I don’t have to struggle, I can now feel secure in my future. Please support the Apprenticeship program. This program saves lives. I know because it saved mine, without it I don’t know where I would be.”
In the past two years of 30 construction deaths 27 were on non-union sites with no evidence of training for workers aside from a 10 hour OSHA card obtained after watching a series of videos.
Who really would benefit from not requiring workers to be trained and certified through New York State Department of Labor approved training with certificates from New York City Department of Buildings?
Consider the accidents on construction sites that have affected workers health and safety as well and danger to citizens living and working near unsafe project using unskilled and untrained personnel to work in potentially dangerous situations that can affect their well-being and potentially unsuspecting citizens passing by.
When accidents happen who covers the cost of emergency services provided by the city to include police, fire and rescue. When insurance premiums rise on building sites who do these costs get passed on to?
Registered and certified New York State apprentice programs provide well educated skilled labor, certified to safely meet the demanding needs of the construction industry. Their goal is to provide workers with the knowledge to work safely bring a job in under budget and ahead of schedule and be an asset to the contractor’s success.