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New law designed to promote minority apprenticeships

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

* Remember that Pritzker press conference yesterday that was only covered by one reporter? This is what it was about…

As the state embarks on a historic $45 billion capital program, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation today to strengthen a pillar of Rebuild Illinois and increase diversity in apprenticeships for construction and the building trades.

“Rebuild Illinois is the largest, most robust capital plan in state history. We’re working with our partners to make sure every community in the state benefits from these good jobs – especially those who have been left out for far too long,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’re putting Illinois’ government back on the side of working families, designing a state that is economically prosperous not just for the few, but for every Illinoisan, no matter the color of their skin or their zip code.”

The Illinois Works Jobs Program will help ensure that Illinois residents from all communities not only benefit from capital projects, but also have access to careers in the construction industry and building trades. Today’s effort includes especially those who have been historically underrepresented in those trades.

The law makes a $25 million investment and works through community-based organizations to recruit new apprentices to work on the construction projects and sets strong apprentice participation goals of 10 percent on public works projects. Through this pre-apprenticeship program, bid credit program and review panel, the new law ensures the Illinois Works Jobs Program can deliver on its goal of building and maintaining a diverse workforce on Rebuild Illinois projects.

“In order to build a healthy and comprehensive economy, we must supply minority businesses with full and fair access to local and state contraction opportunities,” said Sen. Napoleon Harris III (D-Chicago). “I applaud Gov. Pritzker for seeing the significance of this measure and hope to see local governments taking advantage of the business enterprise program to decrease the inequality gap for minority, veterans and female-owned businesses.”

“This legislation creates economic opportunity for working people that have typically been left out of the construction industry,” said House Assistant Majority Leader Will Davis (D- Homewood). “The Rebuild Illinois capital program makes an unprecedented investment in our state, and we’re making sure that benefits all of our communities.”

Senate Bill 177 takes effect January 1, 2020.

This is a pretty important new law because African-American politicians and groups have been complaining about the lack of diversity in trade union membership for decades. So, the Black Caucus and the governor pushed the idea to pump $25 million into apprentice recruitment with a concurrent goal of 10 percent apprentice employment on public works projects and some oversight, study and enforcement mechanisms.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 12:05 pm:

    Aren’t current MBE/WBE programs enough? Could this be another redundancy and $25 million saved?


  2. - NotRich - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    I remember how angry Senate Prez Emil Jones would get during the last rebuild of the Dan Ryan Expressway. Huge amount of Fed & State dollars being used. He would drive on the Ryan and NOT SEE anyone working that looked like him..Let’s be honest here the big trade unions had system of apprenticeships that favored members and family.. They built there apprentice halls/training centers WAY OUT in DuPage and Will Counties.. Very difficult for young people of color to get in or get to..


  3. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    I don’t think the problem is a lack of apprentices. The problem is finding enough master tradespeople to take on new apprentices.

    There are lots of people who want to learn these skills, but they all need teachers.


  4. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    ==I don’t think the problem is a lack of apprentices. The problem is finding enough master tradespeople to take on new apprentices.==

    It’s about lack of apprentices. The apprentice works with master tradesmen who are already working.

    It’s about outreach. If kids think they wouldn’t like the job, send someone to the school to talk about the job and maybe have the kids do some hands on projects. If people think they will be rejected by their coworkers before they even show up because of their race and gender, show them people like themselves who enjoy doing the work and like their coworkers.

    People don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why recruiting is like advertising.


  5. - BHJ867 - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 12:49 pm:

    Da Big Bad Wold


  6. - NoGifts - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    My question is what does “Through this pre-apprenticeship program (…),” mean? Will the individuals be official apprentices or not?


  7. - Union Facts - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    =They built there apprentice halls/training centers WAY OUT in DuPage and Will Counties.=
    The Governor signed the bill in the Laborer’s Training Center on the west side of Chicago, Operating Engineers Local 399’s training center is near Chinatown, Carpenters Training Center is near the South Loop, Plumbers 130 training center is in the West Loop, IBEW 134 built a new hall in Bronzeville, Cement Finishers training center is in Bellwood, Roofers training center is in Countryside.


  8. - SOIL M - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    Yes, more minority apprentices are needed. Yes, the trade unions have a history of excluding minorities.
    So the Unions, who are major donors to Democrats, have discriminated against Minorities and now the same Democrat Politicians who have taken the Union money, will spend $25 Million of tax money to correct this discrimination.
    Let the Unions that control the apprentice programs foot the bill. Require any Trade Union with apprentices working on a State funded project to meet diversity goals, or Non-Union Labor will be used on that project. Save the $25 Million.


  9. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    == or Non-Union Labor will be used on that project. Save the $25 Million.==

    You’re making an assumption that non union contractors don’t have a diversity problem too. I’m not sure that’s true.
    What I’ve noticed over the years of being a female electrician was female office workers running up to me at the office where I’m working and saying “How did you learn to do that” and “Is it hard to do that?” and “How do I do that?”
    It just never occurred to them, no one reached out to them, they saw no examples, so they chose something else.
    You need to put a little more elbow grease in making young people aware of working in the trades.
    == Require any Trade Union with apprentices working on a State funded project to meet diversity goals,==
    Quotas aren’t actually legal, but there is no reason you can’t have a media campaign that will be seen by a diverse group of people.


  10. - Been There - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    === Yes, more minority apprentices are needed. Yes, the trade unions have a history of excluding minorities.====
    20 years or more ago that may have had more truth. But the trade unions have been basically begging to get minorities to apply since then. If only 10-15% who apply are black it’s hard to have a 1st year class that is more than that. And many who initially apply don’t follow up for various reasons.


  11. - DuPage - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    @- NoGifts - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    ===My question is what does “Through this pre-apprenticeship program (…),” mean? Will the individuals be official apprentices or not?===

    I was told about a pre-apprentice class that basically helped them prepare for the written tests that they need to pass to qualify to become
    an apprentice. Some applicants need help reading, doing math, and becoming familiar with the tools and safety procedures they will need to know when on the job. These classes bring them up to speed.


  12. - Ed Equity - Wednesday, Dec 11, 19 @ 6:18 pm:

    The reality of the situation is that the public schools do not allow non-certified teachers to teach the skilled trades. This results in a lack of expert instructors who are from the trades teaching youth to be prepared to join an apprenticeship program. Public schools are “college for all” and do not respect any pathway that is not aligned with this vision. They deem the skilled trades to be a place for “those who can’t” for “throwaways” kids who have problems, not seeing it as a route that leads to wages and careers. Blame should rest squarely with public education and the lack of prepared students to enter the skilled trades.


  13. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Dec 12, 19 @ 6:09 am:

    == Public schools are “college for all” and do not respect any pathway that is not aligned with this vision. They deem the skilled trades to be a place for “those who can’t” for “throwaways” kids who have problems, not seeing it as a route that leads to wages and careers.==
    You have proof for that?


  14. - NoGifts - Thursday, Dec 12, 19 @ 7:32 am:

    My kids graduated from high school not too long ago, and I think that’s largely true. One evidence? Over a long period of time, shop classes were first to be reduced or eliminated along with art and music. If they thought shop had market value, that wouldn’t be the case. https://time.com/3849501/why-schools-need-to-bring-back-shop-class/


  15. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Dec 12, 19 @ 7:56 am:

    Those classes were eliminated, along with social workers, nurses and librarians to save money for broke schools. I doubt it has anything to do with disrespect for those professions.

    Also I heard at the union meeting that the electricians’ union representatives were going to public schools and showcasing their profession. If schools thought the trades were occupations for throwaways why would the schools allow that?

    Hopefully they had the kids hook up a doorbell or light a bulb with a potato, something like that. Kids love that stuff.


  16. - NoGifts - Thursday, Dec 12, 19 @ 8:52 am:

    But advanced placement classes and participation has been rising. https://www.vancopayments.com/education/blog/ap-trend-debate-public-vs-private-schools


  17. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Dec 13, 19 @ 6:33 am:

    Shop class has got to be the most expensive class. Power tools are expensive and they have to be maintained. They produce hazardous materials (sawdust, metal filings, etc.) that have to be dealt with. And the room has to be equipped with safety equipment, explosion proof fixtures, hoods and vents, etc. Plus I’m sure the liability insurance for having a room full of children and power tools isn’t cheap.
    If I were a school administrator looking to save a few bucks I would eliminate shop too.


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