SDTT: IBEW leads the way; will merit shops do their share?

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March 24, 2008

Excerpt from the San Diego Daily Transript:


With a looming manpower shortage the likes of which the construction industry has never faced, it is imperative that all sectors of the construction industry, union and non-union, do all they can to recruit and train new journeymen.

We know that the union apprenticeship programs are doing their part. These programs have been and continue to be the gold standard of the industry. We are also encouraged by the public relation campaigns launched by the so-called non-union merit shops that claim their training programs are second to none.

Unfortunately, the fact is that non-union does a much better job of public relations than it does of recruiting and training apprentices. As the chart below (taken directly from the Department of Industrial Relations Web site) shows, union programs trained more than 90 percent of the new journeymen in California from 2000-2005 (the last year for which statistics are available). Another chart from that same Web site shows that no non-union apprenticeship program has graduated at least 50 percent of its apprentices during that same time. Many, in fact, show graduation rates in the single digits.

The answer to the title question is obviously "No," leaving the future success of the construction industry up to the union apprenticeship programs. It couldn't be in better hands.