Poloncarz Signs Amendment To Erie County Apprenticeship Law To Eliminate A Loophole Which Weakened Original Law

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Erie County Legislators, President of the WNY AFL-CIO John Mudie, and local laborers to sign into law an amendment to Erie County Local Law No. 2-2006 entitled the “Erie County Workforce Development and Diversification New York State Certified Worker Training Program,” an apprenticeship law that required construction contractors with the county to have a NYS Certified Worker Training Program in place. Such programs provide valuable education and career training in skilled jobs to the local workforce and also reduce reliance on out-of-area labor for construction projects, allowing the county to reinvest taxpayer dollars in local projects using a local workforce, and keeping those tax dollars in the local community.

Since passage of the original law in 2006 it has since been determined some, but not all, contractors and subcontractors to Erie County construction contracts are taking advantage of a loophole in the original law to not have in place New York State Certified Worker Training programs that actually graduate apprentices from such programs. By signing this newly enacted amendment to the original law, and thereby closing the loophole, Erie County is standing behind the apprenticeship program’s goal of creating a well trained workforce that can earn a living wage and the contractors that administer these programs.

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “This local law keeps our county tax dollars working right here in Erie County, investing in county construction projects as well as in our workforce. Contractors with the county must have NYS Certified Worker Training Programs that actually graduate workers as apprentices, thereby providing local workers with the education and skills training they need to succeed in construction trades now and in the future, while at the same time lessening the need for out-of-area workers on these jobs as local workers gain new skills. It’s a win-win-win as we build our infrastructure, enhance and diversify our workforce, and keep our local tax dollars working in Erie County.”

The new law was sponsored by Legislators Patrick Burke (7th District), April Baskin (2nd District), and John Bruso (8th District) and passed the Legislature by a 6-5 vote.

“The Apprenticeship law is a good way to invest in our workforce while we also invest in our infrastructure, opening up employment opportunities for more local workers on county-funded construction,” said Legislator Patrick Burke (7th District). “As the county already invests millions of dollars in construction projects annually, it makes great sense to leverage that funding and increase its benefits to our community through work with contractors who are rebuilding our workforce for the future while rebuilding our community today.”

“Apprenticeships are an excellent way to train our future workforce in the jobs that build our communities,” said President of the WNY Area Labor Federation Richard Lipsitz. “These programs produce workers with skills in good-paying jobs that are in demand right here in Erie County, making our county stronger today and into the future.”

Under the new law, construction vendors on Erie County projects in excess of $250,000 will maintain a NYS-registered and -regulated apprenticeship program that includes workforce development and diversification goals to ensure that contractors are working toward a minority workforce goal of 30% minority and female participation. The law also mandates that a minimum of 10% of the total construction workers, trades people, trainees, journeymen and apprentices employed at any given time on such a project must consist of people participating in a NYS Certified Worker Training program, and that these programs must be specific to the type and scope of work which is being performed and must have a graduation rate of at least 30%. Under the 2006 Local Law, graduation rates were not required, and some contractors were skirting the law by having a New York State Certified Worker Training Program but graduating no persons from the program, thereby defeating the purpose and intent of the original law. With the signing of the amendment by County Executive Poloncarz, this loophole is now closed and the original intent of the 2006 law is preserved.

The law will take effect 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State. Click here for a copy of the law.