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ABC Empire State

Trump puts ABC on Training Task Force

Trump once again sells out the Building Trades to non-union Associated Builders and Contractors

Kris LaGrange's picture
Oct 17, 2017

On Monday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) CEO Mike Bellaman had been appointed to Trump’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion for all Americans, giving one of the biggest opponents of strong apprenticeship programs an important voice in Washington.

ABC is the largest group of non-union construction contractors and members in the country. With over 21,000 members, they are a powerful voice that often lobbies against tougher safety standards and training so that they can undercut union tradesmen. While they do run apprenticeship programs, they are watered down versions of the Building Trades program. In 2012, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) described ABC’s apprenticeship program as “shoddy” and “leaves students enrolled in a for-profit education system.” Not quite the ringing endorsement that ABC would like portrayed.

In New York City, ABC vehemently fought against a bill that would have required apprentices to finish a state-approved apprenticeship program before being allowed to work on any building 9 stories or higher. The proposed law was introduced after construction-related deaths skyrocketed in the city. ABC lobbied the City Council against the bill, claiming it would prevent their non-union contractors from getting work because many trades in New York only have state-approved apprenticeship programs that are run through the union. Instead of bringing their program up to code and getting certified by the New York State Labor Department, ABC lobbied to lower the safety standards. The bill eventually failed to pass the City Council.

It’s not just New York where they opposed strong apprenticeships. In Tennessee, ABC lobbied against a state bill that would provide funding for federal apprenticeship training. Once again, they cried foul saying the new program would put their programs at a disadvantage. Instead of making their programs better, ABC sought to lower the standards. In Maryland, they not only opposed a similar bill but fought to remove a requirement that apprenticeship programs be approved by the State or US Departments of Labor.

With Bellaman at the helm, ABC has lobbied at both the National and State level for Right-to-Work. They have also pushed for the repeal of Davis-Bacon and Project Labor Agreements (PLA’s). It’s clear Bellaman will be pushing the task force to institute watered-down rules for apprenticeship training.

He will be joined on the task force by a number of other members who have tried to kill unions including, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Chamber of Commerce President Thomas J. Donohue, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. DeVos spent much of career attempting to privatize public schools to bust teachers’ unions and Reynolds has spent the last 10 months signing some of the most anti-union bills into law. Of the 23 people on the task force only two, North America’s Building Trades President Sean McGarvey and Carpenters President Douglas McCarron, represent the union trades.

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