Wisconsin Governor Repeals Apprenticeship Requirements For Contractors on State Building Projects

In another example of the radical right’s agenda to eviscerate unions from America, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has rescinded all building trades apprenticeship utilization requirements for contractors seeking to participate in state road and infrastructure projects.

At least one member of the Wisconsin legislature expressed concerns that the loss of the apprenticeship requirement would prevent women and minorities from entering the building trades.

On March 9, at the behest of the Wisconsin chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Walker issued Executive Order 18, which has the effect of repealing the six-year-old apprenticeship requirements created by former Gov. Jim Doyle (D) under EO 108. Walker’s order relieves contractors of any apprenticeship standards required for bidding and contracting jobs with the Department of Transportation, the Department of Administration, and any other state agency. The order also halts any pending compliance investigations or determinations by the Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards.

Wisconsin has recognized various types of apprenticeship standards in state contracting since 1911. In 1971, an executive order was created to encourage the employment of apprentices on state projects. Then in 2005, Doyle’s EO 108 created specific requirements for hiring apprentices on state projects. In many respects, the requirements were articulated as ratios of apprentices versus skilled journeymen. Contractors were also required to maintain various types of records to demonstrate compliance.

State Rep. Barbara Toles (D) said she was “deeply disturbed’’ by EO 18 and added that Walker was undermining one of the few paths into the construction trades for minorities and women.

“This is a victory for Walker’s campaign supporters and a crushing defeat for the thousands of minorities and women who have long been excluded from the family-sustaining jobs found in the construction trades,’’ Toles said in a statement issued March 22.