State Legislature Gears Up for Fall Session

Kristi Pronovost The Merit Shop Advocacy Blog, The Merit Shop Spokesman Blog

By: David G. Greineder, IOM, ABC Keystone Director of Government Affairs

In August, I joined the ABC Keystone staff to serve as the Director of Government Affairs. I am thrilled to be leading the government affairs agenda for such a respected and well-known association. As I get settled in, my ultimate goals in this position are threefold: (1) provide timely and frequent updates on our advocacy efforts; (2) engage members in the pursuit of advancing and defending the principles of the merit shop; and (3) strengthen and build relationships with lawmakers.

As we look to the legislative calendar, the middle of September marks the return of the Legislature from summer recess for a fall session that stretches through December. At the top of ABC’s agenda will be promoting and supporting legislation to bring much-needed reform to the State Apprenticeship and Training Program. Pennsylvania’s apprenticeship law was enacted in 1961, and it requires non-union companies to have four journeypersons to each apprentice. The law allows unions to set their own ratios through a collective bargaining agreement, which traditionally have been well below a 4:1 ratio. Making matters worse, in states that do not operate their own apprenticeship program, federal rules are applied, and those states all have a ratio lower than 4:1. These archaic rules make it hard for non-union companies to hire apprentices and severely limits the amount of training opportunities for young people who want to work in the trades.

ABC is working with lawmakers on legislation that will level the playing field, but we need your voice to gain traction and put a spotlight on the issue. You might have heard that we have been working with Representative Barb Gleim (R-Cumberland) on House Bill 559, which would establish a 1:1 ratio. Another bill introduced by Representative Barb Gleim is House Bill 1746. This bill seeks to offer another solution to the unlevel playing field. The legislation would update the apprenticeship ratio standards on a hazard scale as follows:

• High hazard – three supervisors for each apprentice
• Medium hazard – two supervisors for each apprentice
• Low hazard – one supervisor for each apprentice

The bill also sets a 1:1 ratio for businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees for the first three apprentices, and a 3:2 ratio for apprentices after that. If a union program in the same industry allows a lower ratio than set by regulation, non-union programs will be allowed the same ratio. We are hopeful the House Labor & Industry Committee will schedule hearings on this and other ratio bills in the coming months.

As the new Director of Government Affairs, my goal is to ensure ABC members are represented and informed on our legislative agenda. Please be on the lookout for future email updates and ways to become engaged. If you are not signed up to receive our email alerts, you can do so at: https://abckeystone.org/government-affairs-politics/voter-voice/. You can also download the “ABC Action App” from the app store on your mobile device, or at abc.org/abcaction.

I look forward to working with so many dedicated members in my new capacity. Please reach out to me anytime at davidg@abckeystone.org or at the Chapter office (717) 653-8106, with your thoughts, questions, concerns, and feedback on ABC Keystone’s government affairs program.

September 4, 2019