Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, IA – Their Experience working with Unions
Eastern Iowa Community Colleges works with approximately 25 companies with manufacturing apprenticeships each year. Typically about 4-5 of those companies are union companies. Following are some key points to consider when working with a union organization:
- Apprentices who work for union companies are often paid for training time. This requires that the training provider is able to track the time each apprentice spends in training and report it back to the employer in a timely way. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) uses a timeclock system (Accudemia) that apprentices sign in to each time they start and finish training. The system can be set up to send employers a report as needed.
- Apprentices for union companies also tend to be more frequently tracked in terms of their progress. Grades may determine whether or not an apprentice may continue in training, or be pulled from the program. EICC provided monthly reports for apprentices. As numbers have increased, and we transition to hard start/hard stop classes, employers will receive grades every eight weeks. We anticipate that this will be an adjustment, and we may need to provide supplemental progress at regular intervals for these companies
- Apprentices who work for union companies may be impacted by plant shut-downs and lay-offs. This can make training a challenge. Previously EICC’s manufacturing programs operated under a very flexible system that allowed students to work as quickly or as slowly as they wished to on classes. As the number of students and apprentices has increased, it becomes much more difficult to keep this flexibility. In the fall of 2021, all apprentices will begin to take classes in a hard start/hard stop format. This will be a big change for apprentices and their companies, and it is going to require a lot of planning to ensure that apprentices can continue to make good progress, and the college can be somewhat flexible in charges.
- Companies with unions tend to play a larger role in decision-making with regard to apprentices. Unions must approve pay raises, apprenticeship standards, and other factors. For example, during the pandemic, the union was often the decision-maker about when apprentices could return to training, and whether or not the college’s safety guidelines would meet their specifications. Involvement of unions in apprenticeships can make it more challenging to develop standards, and more time-consuming. Often, it may require several meetings with multiple groups of representatives from a company to develop and approve standards.
- Companies with unions tend to manage their own DOL reporting and act as the sponsor for standards. EICC only has one company with a union that works under our college standards. Others tend to have their own, and use the college solely as the training provider.
Community Colleges of Southern New Hampshire – Engaging with Union and Non-Union Registered Apprenticeship Programs
- Most businesses we have worked with to develop apprenticeship programs have been non-union organizations. We do have a small number of sponsors with collective bargaining agreements in place for their employees, but in those instances, it did not have a significant impact on the development of the registered apprenticeship or the initial interest from the employer.
- In our experience, the few sponsors that did have union affiliations may have had an extended timeline for developing the program as they needed to consult with union representatives to seek approval on certain elements of the apprenticeship (progressive wages, probationary period, etc.). Otherwise, the roll-out of the apprenticeship was like what we have experienced with non-union employers.
- Lessons learned: do not let the potential for union involvement deter you from pursuing a business that you think could be a good fit for registered apprenticeship. The union will ideally be an advocate for the program and while they do have authority to approve or deny apprenticeship components, they can work alongside the employer to move through the process.
- There are union-sponsored apprenticeship programs for the trades in New Hampshire – carpentry, plumbing/pipe fitters, electrical. These programs are coordinated by the union and have not presented a significant partnership opportunity for us. In past conversations with union representatives, they have expressed a desire to gear their program to a more diverse pool of potential candidates; we have not been able yet to provide assistance in this space but this could be an opportunity for ECCA grantees to connect with programs like this in their own states.
Expanding RA in OA states – strategies, promising practices, lessons learned on relationship with state OA contacts & engaging with their office to establish and expand programs.
- Because we are a small state, NH only has 2 full-time OA staff. Therefore, we are fortunate to have a good working relationship with their office.
- Very early on, our team worked with the Office of Apprenticeship staff to develop an apprenticeship standards development process that allows for our business outreach staff to take the lead on coordinating with the employer while also accounting for regular check-ins during the process so that OA staff can review components of the standards as they are in development.
- OA staff have also trained our team on how to develop apprenticeship standards using the boilerplates from the national office. This allows us to alleviate some of the paperwork load that their office manages day to day and gives us the freedom and flexibility to move at our own pace.
Blue Ridge Community College, NC – Promising Practices in Right-To-Work States
Blue Ridge Community College – Employer FAQs
What if I hire an Apprentice and find out they aren’t a good fit?
North Carolina is an at-will employment state. Apprentices are just like any other employee and you always have the right to terminate employment. I recommend following the documentation and protocols that you would for any other employee. If it’s appropriate, we’ll work with other Employers on finding the Apprentice a different placement.
Do I have to hire someone after they finish their Apprenticeship?
You’ve already hired them! Apprenticeship is designed to help you grow your talent pipeline. Once an Apprentice completes their program, they have Journeyman status and are more proficient at their job than ever. They’re an asset to your company! If, for any reason, at any time, the Apprentice is not an asset, you are free to terminate employment, just as with any other employee.
If I participate in the Apprenticeship Consortium, do I have to hire an Apprentice?
Participating in a Consortium of Employers helps to raise visibility for a whole industry. We can work together to talk to prospective Apprentices about the viability of a particular career path. Participating in the recruitment process means you’ll get to raise the profile of your company because your logo will be on our website, in our social media, etc. We’re confident that the pool of candidates will entice you to want to hire when the time comes.
Pima Community College, AZ – Promising Practices in Right To Work States
In expanding registered apprenticeships in the state of Arizona, Pima Community College first developed a relationship with the State Apprenticeship Agency Office and the State Director. College apprenticeship staff have been meeting with the State Director for years to learn about the process of registering apprenticeship and utilized the ECCA initiative to fully launch into Registered Apprenticeship. The State Director provided us with a direct point of contact to train and guide college staff through the process as we headed down the road to becoming a registered apprenticeship sponsor. College staff continue to engage and have meetings with the State Director himself, as we cross into new areas we may have not experienced before. As an example, we are currently working with a large employer and learned there is a labor union involved, but that the employer has not engaged them in the process. We contacted the State Director, as this was a new situation for our college, and he provided us guidance on how to handle joint registered apprenticeship programs (those including a labor union).
College staff also spend a large amount of time educating employers that registered apprenticeships are not always union-driven. This is true not only for the construction and building trades but all industry sectors. Registered apprenticeships are really a structured training model and succession planning.