Don’t Turn on Capitol TV

I made that mistake, and the House is debating H5582, which would mandate the number of apprentices who can be supervised by journeymen in trades. Majority Leader Gordon Fox just gave an impassioned speech about good workmanship, living wages, people of color, etc. In short, it’s a lot of rhetoric by people who have no idea what they’re talking about.
The simple economic fact is that the proposed ratios are ludicrous wastes of opportunity that will protect large, union contractors and prevent small entrepreneurs from advancing. Reviewing the legislation, it wouldn’t be outlandish to suggest that special interests are attempting to adjust the market because Rhode Island’s commercial market is drying up.
Every crew working on a residential job would require one journeyman or master for every apprentice.* You don’t need to have experience with construction sites to understand that bricklaying is the sort of work that allows an experienced guy to supervise several workers of varying experience somewhere below the level of journeyman. (Often such workers have enough experience to become journeymen but fall short by some other criterion.)
Carpenters. Laborers. Painters. Glaziers. All would be one to one on residential projects, under this bill. That’s crazy, and it is very suggestive of ulterior motives that there’s no difference from trade to trade.
Rep. Trillo and my representative, Jay Edwards, who actually works in construction, are trying to explain how a jobsite works to the rest. Deaf ears, I’d say.
This is why the state is in its current condition and getting worse every time this legislative body meets.
* There’s been some talk on the floor that the residential ratios only apply to projects with four or more units, but that appears to only apply to certain trades, including (for example) sheet metal and pipefitters, but none of those that I list above.
ADDENDUM:
Edwards made the point that it’s difficult to get apprentices, anyway, hypothesizing the reason as a desire to go to college. Part of that desire, I’d propose as somebody who entered the trades after receiving a college degree and working in offices for a couple of years, results from the lack of clear and quick opportunity in trades.
A number of years ago, I explained how Rhode Island’s approach to licensing results in fewer tradesmen than our neighboring states — specifically in terms of the hurdles one would have to clear upon identifying a particular trade as a market opportunity:

Starting everybody green, and assuming everybody passes the tests immediately, after 12 years, Rhode Island’s system will have turned one master plumber into four masters and four journeymen, able to take eight apprentices. The Massachusetts system? Double in every category. Not only will twice the customers receive service, but twice the unemployed people can step onto the career path. Moreover, the gap ripples outward into the economy in innumerable forms — from the cost of home renovations to the rates of pay for less-skilled jobs.

If the trades were such that smart people could hop in, learn the profession at a self-direct pace, and quickly turn the job into a profitable career, more would make the attempt. With labor laws and union influence as they are, the choices are skewed. As a young adult graduating from high school, would you rather work full time in crawl spaces and bathrooms for five years while taking night courses in order to become a master plumber or party for four years and do enough classwork to get a degree that opens a door into an air conditioned office in which you’d begin learning an actual occupation only generally related to your education?
ADDENDUM II:
The legislation passed by a healthy but not overwhelming majority. The governor should veto this particular bill. The voters should upend the legislature.

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Roland
Roland
11 years ago

I just had Capitol TV on and saw the vitriol about color, blah, blah, blah, color, blah, blah, and so on..
Is all that will come through On the Act of Labor related to color?
Is this a sign of what will come should Fox become speaker? Just introduce color into the fray and voila, passion and concern for the citizens of this state!
See how nicely the color argument works? Well, except for eVerify where you’re a racist, no race preferred, if in favor.
I worked for an automation controls design group for a large company. We designed and built our own machines.
Our electrical build group of 25 was lead by a single Master Electrician. There were maybe four licensed electricians and those that could be classified as journeymen and recognized as such by the state. I have no idea what Fox or Williams was talking about when it came to color being an issue.
I had been listening to Matt Allen where I’ve heard talk about the Almeida state name change bill no less than 18 days this year alone. Becoming sick over hearing much of the same talk, I needed to get away, Southwest wasn’t running specials tonight, so I thought I’d turn on Capitol TV and H5582 was on.
That lasted five minutes. I came here to Anchor and well,…
Antacids anyone?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Well it’s not like the make-up of an efficient and effective labor crew could possibly be determined by something like the competitive free market, that being so much “libertarian pixie dust” and all. It’s not like people could figure out the correct ratios themselves through trial and error, common sense, and the corrective forces of the competitive business process. What a great candidate for government interventionism this issue is.
It is a good thing that we have the intellectual elite in the General Assembly, the experts in the field as it were, to tell us what we may and may not do in our own business practices. We would be sunk without their constant guidance in such day to day matters of our lives.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

So if I have this right, RI is #2 in the country for unemployment, somewhere north of 13%. And how does our General Assembly and our future Speaker deal with that? By making it even harder to get a manual labor job?
Yeah, that makes sense.
Circling the drain…

Jay Edwards
Jay Edwards
11 years ago

Justin,
Just a quick heads up- Sen. Ruggiero has re-introduced the apprenticeship bill. They haven’t found anyone to take the bite thus far on the House side yet. It’s never too early to start opposing bad legislation so I thought you might want to get active in trying to help stop this bill that will kill our industry.
Jay

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