The Spokane City Council will be hearing an ordinance next Monday, December 15th, that will require 15% apprenticeship utilization on all public works contracts over $350,000.
Proponents of this ordinance call it a jobs bill and have described anyone that opposes it as not supporting jobs. Make no mistake – this ordinance DOES NOT create jobs. The street levy and park bond create jobs. All this ordinance does is tell us who can and cannot have those jobs.
More than anyone, AGC contractors understand the workforce shortages facing our industry. No other association does more to support apprenticeship or workforce development. The construction industry as a whole employees more apprentices than any other industry in the State of Washington. And while we understand that we are facing a workforce shortage, this one size fits all approach is not the solution to our problems.
The Spokane Alliance and FUSE have gathered an impressive group to be at City Council on Monday in support of this ordinance. Every apprenticeship director in the area will tell them they have a long list of people that want to be apprentices. You are well aware that for every one of them that testifies, we could bring up 3 times as many contractors that will tell you they cannot get apprentices when they need them.
This ordinance also imposes stiff penalties for anyone that does not meet the requirements and gives no allowances for “good faith effort”. It also makes no allowance for contractors that do not have access to apprentices and forces them to sign agreements with a union sponsored plan. When Council President Stuckart was told that this ordinance would force many small, family-owned companies that provide their own in-house training, to no longer do work with the city, his reply was “no one is forcing them to work with us”.
We need to make sure City Council understands the real implications of this ordinance. This will not help solve our workforce issues, this will force companies to use apprentices when they tell them to, not when it makes the most sense or provides the best training opportunities, and it will cost the city money in oversight and increased bid prices to accommodate extra workers or penalties. Additionally, we currently have 11,000 people working in this industry that we need to keep employed, and this could very well force contractors to send some of these people home to make room for the required apprentices.
I strongly encourage you to write to city council today and to be present at next Monday’s city council meeting. It is important that they hear both sides of this issue. They are getting dozens of letters every day, we need all of our members to contact them, please encourage all of your contractors, subs and suppliers to contact them as well.
See the complete ordinance here (Page 216).
Find contact information for City Council members.
For more information, contact Cheryl Stewart at email@example.com or at (509) 535-0391.