Apprenticeship as an Organizing Tool? Field Notes from Washington State.

Dan Jacoby, Univesity of Washington, Bothell

Federal Apprenticeship standards are set out under the Fitzgerald Act. Given the increased interest in skills and human capital investment, this paper examines whether apprenticeship provides an opportunity for organizing workers with or without union partnerships in a wider array of employments. Washington State is considered a leader among states developing apprenticeship. Its Apprenticeship standards mandate a starting wage equal to 60% of journeyman level (and not less than the minimum wage), and call for wage progression over the duration of an apprenticeship. Standards also stipulate responsibilities of training firms and involved organizations. The state has experimented with shorter apprenticeships, as well as apprenticeships without union participation. This paper reports on field interviews from unions and employers to explore the opportunities and constraints inherent in apprenticeship organization. Issues related to union involvement, cost sharing, poaching, and the recruitment of diverse applicants are developed and discussed. Finally, the potential application of apprenticeship standards to graduate students and novice academics is explored as a potential new area for organization.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 160. The Politics of Training and Hiring Practices