The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued its final administrative rule on Industry Recognized Apprenticeships (IRAPs). ACT Ohio Chief Legal Counsel Rob Dorans advises on what this means for Building Trades Apprenticeships.

As you remember, NABTU and all of the Building Trades International unions ran an aggressive public comment campaign last fall to encourage the DOL to keep the exclusion of construction form the IRAPs program. Over 300,000 public comments were provided to the DOL on the rule, many of which focused on this construction exemption.

We have some good news; under Section 29.30 of the final rule construction is excluded from the IRAP recognition program. The rule specifically states “…excludes the construction sector from the scope of the final rule. The section provides that the Administrator will not recognize as SREs entities that intend to recognize as IRAPs programs that seek to train apprentices to perform construction activities, consisting of: the erecting of buildings and other structures (including additions); heavy construction other than buildings; and alterations, reconstruction, installation, and maintenance and repairs. It also provides that SREs that obtain recognition from the Administrator are prohibited from recognizing as IRAPs programs that seek to train apprentices to perform construction activities, consisting of the erecting of buildings and other structures (including additions); heavy construction other than buildings; and alterations, reconstruction, installation, and maintenance and repairs.”

The one change from the proposed rule to the final rule as it relates to construction is how the DOL is planning to define what is and what is not construction. It will use the North American Industry Classification System (“NAICS”) Manual description of Sector 23 as the definition of construction. That said, the DOL states it will not rely only n the job titles or job classifications referenced in NAICS 23 to determine whether an applicants IRAP falls within the definition of construction activities. Rather, it will “look holistically at all the information in the RE’s application to determine whether an SRE seeks to train in construction activities.”

The DOL has left itself some wiggle room here, but for the most part, this looks like a win for the Building Trades on the IRAP issue. Below is a link to the unpublished final rule:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-03605.pdf

Have questions about the DOL’s IRAP rule and what it means for Ohio Building Trades Apprenticeships? Contact ACT Ohio at info@ACTOhio.org.

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