Federal Mechanical Insulation Act is not union vs. non-union bill
Insulators International Staff — Wed, Jan 25, 2023 @ 15:01 PM
Pete Ielmini, Executive Director of the Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust (LMCT), made his monthly appearance on America's Work Force Union Podcast and addressed how the Federal Mechanical Insulation Act is not a union versus non-union issue.
While the Federal Mechanical Insulation Act has yet to be reintroduced to Congress in 2023, Ielmini believes it will happen soon, as he expects Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) to co-sponsor the bill.
During the Jan. 25 podcast, Ielmini told AWF host Ed "Flash" Ferenc that he believes all the bill’s original co-sponsors will continue to support the legislation. Ielmini added that he is working to gather even more support from both sides of the political aisle for this bill.
He stressed that the FMIA is a bipartisan bill, not a union versus non-union legislation. Instead, it stipulates that only Mechanical Insulators who have completed or are currently enrolled in a registered apprenticeship program will perform the work created by the FMIA.
What is a registered apprentice program?
Registered apprenticeship programs are federally regulated, post-high school training and education programs. Apprentices in the Insulators Union registered apprenticeship program undergo extensive training to become the best-trained workforce:
- A minimum of 720 hours of classroom instruction over a 4- to 5-year period.
- A minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction per year.
- A minimum of 1,600 hours of on-the-job training per year.
Ielmini explained the “earn while you learn” apprenticeship model used by union construction trades in the U.S. and Canada. Apprentices in this model work alongside seasoned journeymen in the field, learning the trade while receiving a competitive hourly rate and outstanding benefits.
Additionally, they receive mandatory classroom instruction to help them learn the concepts and gain the knowledge needed to be successful. This training model is similar to how physicians are trained in the medical field. Their residency program is akin to union Registered Apprenticeship programs.
The Federal Mechanical Insulation Act is not union vs. non-union
One issue Ielemini is working to overcome is the misunderstanding that the Federal Mechanical Insulation Act is pro-union legislation. Ielmini stressed the importance of educating the members of Congress on the union versus non-union issue. He acknowledged that it is possible for non-union contractors to have registered apprenticeship programs.
However, he said there is a difference as union-registered apprenticeship programs spend millions of dollars training apprentices. Ielmini explained how union members fund these programs through a portion of their hourly pay that goes to their training fund.
Listen to the interview: