ABC Keystone Merit Shop Advocacy Blog


It was a busy and impactful June for ABC public policy priorities. The House Commerce Committee advanced House Bill 424, which would prohibit indemnity clauses in construction contracts, by a vote of 23-1. We anticipate the bill will advance to the full House in the fall session. We provided comments on various pieces of legislation that would impact our members. We also supported legislation that would waive federal environmental permits on construction sites of less than five acres. Most significantly, we saw action on legislation (House Bill 536) that would reform the state’s mandated journeyworker-to-apprentice ratio rules, which have discriminated against the merit shop for 60 years.

On June 2, a subcommittee of the House Labor & Industry Committee held a hearing on “barriers to apprenticeship and training.” ABC of Pennsylvania submitted written testimony outlining our case for changing the discriminatory rules. George Hayden, an ABC member from multiple chapters including the Keystone Chapter, provided oral remarks. ABC’s written testimony was quoted by the full committee chairman, and Mr. Hayden received accolades for his presentation from committee members. It was a job well done on ABC’s part.

On June 22, Chairman Cox scheduled a voting meeting on House Bill 536. The committee amended the bill to remove politically impossible provisions. While the committee did not proceed with a final vote on the bill, as amended, the chairman advised the committee that he is committed to working with stakeholders over the summer to address outstanding concerns.

There is more work to do, and ABC will have a seat at the table. Of note, the amended bill will ensure both joint and non-joint programs are following the same ratios, which is the goal of ABC. The good news is the chairman is intent on moving a bill in the fall. He also invited committee members to tour joint and non-joint facilities over the summer to better understand apprenticeship programs and learn about the concerns of both sides. ABC facilities will be included in these site visits.

The ABC of Pennsylvania board has been fully engaged in this issue by participating in meetings with legislators, providing feedback on the legislation, and representing their respective chapters. This is an important part of the process, as we want to ensure all chapter voices and perspectives are heard.

With the completion of the state budget, the legislature will be on recess until mid-September; however, we will continue to be front-and-center on the legislative issues above to prepare for the fall session. Please stay tuned to the ABC Action Center for ways to get involved.

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Posted June 28, 2021