General Law Committee


Bill No.:




Vote Date:


Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:


File No.:


General Law


To reduce the shortage of skilled tradespeople and to increase apprenticeship opportunities.


Representative Ruth Fahrbach, House Republican Whip, Sixty-first District

This bill was proposed at the request of an employer whose business and trade has been negatively affected by the current 3 to 1 ratio. He expressed his concerns about the shortage of qualified tradesmen caused not only by his inability to train additional individuals but also by the fact that tradesmen are retiring at a rate faster than trade schools can educate and graduate trained individuals.

We are requesting that the ratio be changed 2 to 1. This ratio would allow for the training of more individuals while still providing appropriate supervision of apprentices. People continue to express concerns about the lack of jobs in this state yet we make it harder for individuals to be trained to do the jobs necessary in a field that is in need of additional trained personnel. Written testimony.

John McCarthy, CT Department of Labor

We respectfully request no action on proposed HB 5146.

The Labor Commissioner is responsible for all apprenticeship training standards both in classroom instruction and on the job site. The Apprenticeship Program is a job training program, not an opportunity to hire lower paid workers. The apprentices get paid less. As they progress closer and closer to their goal, their pay goes up. The statute specifically requires the Commissioner to formulate work-training standards, which ensure necessary safeguards for the welfare of the apprentices and full craft experience. One of the essential standards of the program is the ratio.

A one-to-one hiring ratio negatively affects the standards of apprenticeship. Apprenticeship is a continual course of training. When a journeyperson is absent from work, the apprentice would be precluded from work if the hiring ratio were one to one. In a licensed trade, it's illegal to work that way. The department has long recognized that there are temporary circumstances that may require an exemption from the hiring ratio. There is in place a swift online application process for temporary ratio relief. Decisions are rendered quickly by the Commissioner after input from a sub-committee of the Apprenticeship Council. The ratio relief process is utilized by less than 8% of all program sponsors. Last year it was 6%. Relief is requested by licensed sponsors exclusively and the only employers that apply for relief are employers of licensed trades. A number of requests are from the same employers. Licensed work like electrical work may only be performed by licensed journeypersons or registered apprentices so there's a real value to the protection of the apprentice on the job. Oral and Written testimony


Kevin J. Moriarty, President, H.A.R.P. Mechanical LLC

The current ratio of 3 to 1 creates a hardship of employers and potential employees. There is a shortage of qualified tradesmen in our business; they are retiring at a faster rate than the trade schools can put the students into the field. To compound the problem, we have to turn away very qualified people because the ratio preludes us from putting them into the field. A 2:1 ratio will not only allow us to have more of these students, but will still serve the public's interest by providing proper supervision of the apprentices.

Change the ratio in the interest of the small and large CT Service Companies, the CT economy, and the future of the CT workforce. - Written testimony.

Jeff Leone, President, Air Temp Mechanical Services, Inc.

I strongly support HB 5146 and feel this bill is very important to the growth of my business and the addition of numerous jobs in Connecticut.

The State of Connecticut has a technical high school program that teaches this important trade and when these young adults graduate from school they cannot get a job because the current ratio does not allow us to hire them. In our industry we are losing two journeymen for every new apprentice becoming a journeyman. If this ratio does not change our industry will be in big trouble.

All we are looking for is to have a 1 to 1 hiring ratio, the same ratio as out in the field working. Some people today will testify that it is a safety issue, why would it be a safety issue if the ratio is 1 to 1 working in the field? By changing this ratio we will create more jobs and be able to give the end users a fair price. – Written testimony

Eric D'Eramo, Director of Business Operations and Resources, Environmental Control

I would like to express my strong support for the raised House Bill 5146. This bill will change this to a much more favorable one apprentice for each license holder and therefore be consistent with the job site ratio of 1:1. There's a mass misunderstanding going on here. One is there's a job site ratio, and there's a hiring ratio.

This bill is trying to create an opportunity for apprenticeships, apprentices who are in schools right now. The job site ratio is one to one, no matter how much work you have. This bill is trying to change that, change the hiring ratio, so that graduates can come into the companies and learn, and then have an opportunity to go out on the job site on a one to one basis. There's a lot of room out there right now to change this hiring ratio, and still comply with everybody's needs. Both sides of these arguments could be met with that.

There are also concerns about back 25 years ago we got into trouble with this. We're in the State of Connecticut, highest insurance rates in the country, and as an employer you wouldn't want to endanger anybody, or potentially put somebody in a dangerous situation where they get killed because you're going to be out of business.

The other thing is the aging workforce. The hiring ratio provides us a mechanism to build a farm team. We need to build a farm team so that we can replace our aging tradesmen and transfer that knowledge. During the eighties a lot of people left this trade. In the nineties they started disappearing. Schools are jamming with students right now. We need to make this change to provide a mechanism to give them the opportunity they deserve.

Connecticut trade schools both public and private have done a good job of modifying and improving their curriculum to produce better qualified graduates to meet the needs of employers. Classrooms are full once again after years of declining enrollment. Upon graduation they are met with disappointment when they apply for a job. They are told by employers they can not hire them due to ratio restrictions. HB 5146 can correct this problem.

It is important to understand these students represent our future workforce and we must transfer to them the knowledge of our master mechanics. We must take advantage of the opportunity before us to increase the number of skilled Tradesmen in our labor pool.

In supporting this piece of legislation, you will be helping Connecticut take steps towards ensuring opportunities for apprentices and providing a mechanism to allow the contractors to create jobs as well. – Oral and written testimony

Connecticut Heating & Cooling Contractors Association

The Connecticut Heating & Cooling Contractors Association, Inc. would like to express our strong support for HB 5146.

For years now, the merit shop HVAC contractors in the state of Connecticut have battled and suffered with a hiring ratio of 3:1 – while maintaining a job site ratio of 1:1. The negative impact of this regulation on this industry has been phenomenal. The shortage of incoming technicians in the field is at an all time low. Many contracting firms are unable to hire the technical school graduates, due to the Connecticut ratio hiring criteria. Without the influx of these students in the industry, the technician shortage is only going to worsen. Technical High School students participate in a four-year program for a trade that desperately needs them, only to complete successfully and join the unemployed population of Connecticut.

Research has shown nearly 80% of the Connecticut Construction Industry is non-union. Homes of your constituents are serviced by this 80%. If there are no available technicians, you will not be able to receive quick and efficient skilled services. The positive impact HB 5146 will have on the HVAC Industry and the state of Connecticut is monumental. Allowing contractors to hire more workers will in fact increase the number of jobs in the state. This bill will have a positive impact on raising tax revenue as well.

In light of today's business economy in Connecticut, we ask you to rid contracting firms of an antiquated regulation that ties their hands in the hiring process. – Written testimony

Jim Chard, President – Chard & Son, Connecticut Heating & Cooling Contractors Association

Support of HB 5146 will help Connecticut take steps towards ensuring opportunities for apprentices and providing a mechanism to allow the contractors to create jobs. I am engaged in the operation of a small third generation family owned HVAC and plumbing business based in Burlington Connecticut. We currently have 8 people (6 journeymen and 2 apprentices) active out in the field. In the past 2 weeks I have received four telephone calls inquiring about employment openings at our company. Those calls from technical school graduates looking for enrollment in an apprenticeship program. You can hear the let down in their voice when I explain that due to the current 3:1 hiring ratio I cannot consider hiring them.

There was mention of hiring an apprentice before, you use that as a tool to keep your labor cheap and to hire in lieu of a licensed person. I've had ads out for the past six months in the market and I have not gotten one person, licensed person, to respond when I specify licensed people. Although it specifies licensed only, I am currently at the max for my ratio. I got nothing but phone call after phone call after phone call from apprentices. I don't think I should be subjected to having to submit for ratio relief because I don't think that the safety issue that's been cited here is an issue. We're hiring now at least three to four dollars above minimum wage for an apprentice coming out of high school. I don't believe that's cheap labor, and then they are incremented up until they finish the program.

The 3:1 hiring ratio in our industry has resulted in a severe shortage of technicians. Without the influx of these students in the industry, the technician shortage is only going to worsen. Our industry's jobsite ratio has always been 1:1 – set by the state of Connecticut for various reasons, including safety.

Skilled technicians in the HVAC Industry are desperately needed because if the hiring ratio were set to the same criteria as the job site ratio (1:1) – the end result would be the creation of numerous high quality technical jobs throughout the state. -Oral and written testimony.

Frank E. Lazowski, Project Manager, M&O Corporation

I strongly support HB 5146. As an instructor for the State of Connecticut in the HVAC license evening program, I am frequently asked if my company can provide a job for the students. Some students had sent me resumes hoping for a chance to become a registered apprentice. Based on our Licensed to Apprentice Ratio of three to one, we are unable to hire any of these students. Our quota is full.

We have the Davis Bacon Act so the “playing field” is equal on State projects between union and non union companies. Why not level the field for Apprentice Ratios, so more people can break into the work force? - Oral and written testimony

Robert H. Oetjen, President, M&O Corporation

Supports the bill because it will set the ratio of Journeyperson to Apprentice from 3 to 1 to 1:1 for hiring. Passage of this bill will create hundreds of jobs for Vocational Technical High School graduates. It will encourage people who are just entering high school, the job market, or who are under employed to enter the HVAC trade, which is desperately in need of well trained technicians and represents a well paid career.

We employ 44 people. Of these 27 are licensed Journeypersons and 8, soon to be 9, registered Apprentices. It's not a way to get around the union. The restriction that we have I think is very much in favor of the union contractor who can have one apprentice and one journeyman on the job but because we can't hire in that ratio, we cannot. Often we will bid on a job because we know that we have 27 employees and only 9 journeymen and only 9 apprentices, there are going to be times when we have 2 journeymen on a job, so our pay scale on that job is going to be higher than the union, and I think that's unfair competition.

The present 3 to 1 hiring ratio means our firm has no openings for apprentices although we need them. If this bill passes, our company would hire at least three apprentices.

One of our best sources of apprentices is the immigrant community and they become excellent employees. Their friends who see how they, with only a high school education, have gone from minimum wage jobs to making over $80,000 a year want the same opportunity. It is difficult to turn these friends away because we have no room in our apprenticeship program due to the current 3 to 1 hiring ratio. – Oral and written testimony.

Bill Ethier, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, Home Builders Association of Connecticut, Inc. (HBA of CT)

The HBA of Connecticut strongly supports the Bill. The 3:1 hiring ratio increases project costs by forcing the nonunion contractor to hire extra journeymen before hiring an apprentice, contributes to manpower shortages, and denies younger persons opportunities to learn the trades. In the licensed occupational trades, a policy that requires more than a 1:1 hiring ratio of journeyman to apprentice severely limits non-union trade businesses to hire apprentices. Union shops are not affected by this restrictive hiring ratio because the union-sponsored apprentice is indentured to the union hall and not to an individual employer. The arbitrary hiring restriction directly and adversely impacts the ability of homebuilders and remodelers to engage the licensed trades on a timely basis, impacts the cost of these services, and increases the cost of home building and remodeling construction projects because our industry is almost entirely non-union.

The current 3:1 hiring ratio does not help protect the public's safety because licensed journeyman and apprentices can work on a job site on a 1:1 basis. The 3:1 ratio affects only hiring practices not work site practices.

There is no justifiable argument for maintaining the current 3:1 hiring ratio. The current job site 1:1 journeyman to apprentice ratio would not change under the proposed bill. Arguments made in the past by the Dept. of Labor that it would not be able to ensure a work site 1:1 ratio if the hiring ratio is changed has no merit. The argument that, under a 1:1 hiring ratio, an apprentice cannot work if a journeyman is out sick also has no merit since apprentices are undertaking and studying coursework and other duties in the shop or elsewhere that do not require the 1:1 work site ratio for the brief time a journeyman might be out sick.

My mission for all the years I've been up here is to try and reduce the cost drivers that are driving our high housing costs. The 3:1 hiring ratio in a residential construction field does drive up housing costs. It drives up the cost that builders have to pay to the licensed trades. The lack of housing supply in this state is a direct cause of our high housing prices and hampers both the willingness and ability of people to come here or stay here and, consequently, the ability of businesses to grow. The current hiring ratio restrictions are a contributing factor to our periodic workforce shortages in the licensed trades.

The HBA recently developed a workforce development program, receiving a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (one of ten organizations in the country to receive that grant) to build the construction workforce for residential in this state. A director has been hired to go into community colleges and Vo-tech schools to get kids interested in residential construction as a career. We want to offer these kids in opportunities to apprentice with some of the non-union shops. Residential construction is almost entirely non-union, so when my guys go out and hire licensed trades, they typically hire non-union tradesmen

We urge the state to codify the practice of allowing a 1:1 hiring ratio of journeyman to apprentice. This change will maintain current workplace safety rules and the current work site 1:1 ratio. It will remove a nonsensical barrier to non-union trade contractors' ability to grow their companies or offer competitive bids on jobs. And it will help reduce the costs faced by home builders and remodelers. - Oral and written testimony.

Evelyn Patnaude, mother of vocational high school graduate

My son graduated from a vocational high school and is in the process of his HVAC apprenticeship. Years of 3:1 hiring ratio in the industry, has resulted in a severe shortage of technicians. Many contracting firms are unable to hire the technical school graduates, due to their inadequate number of journeymen according to Connecticut ratio hiring criteria.

Our industry's jobsite ratio has always been 1:1 – set by the state of Connecticut for various reasons, including safety. To keep the hiring ratio at anything but 1:1 does nothing more than hinder the ability for Connecticut residents to gain employment. Skilled technicians in the HVAC Industry are desperately needed. If the hiring ratio were set to the same criteria as the job site ratio 1:1 – the end result would be the creation of numerous jobs throughout the state of Connecticut. - Written testimony.

Chris Jordyn, Director of Combustion Technology, Independent Connecticut Petroleum Association (ICPA)

ICPA support HB 5146 for a number of reasons. One of the biggest challenges is attracting new people to the industry to ensure the labor force can adequately meet the needs of Connecticut residents. The challenge is in part caused by the apprentice ratios. Ratio restrictions hamper the ability to attract new people. General Statute 20-334 states, only certified personnel can be on a job site, and because an apprentice must be accompanied by at least one Journeyperson, only the amount of manpower and training increases but not the amount of simultaneous work.

The rules apply to everyone, union or non-union. Ratios are different depending upon which trade you are in. I think it's sort of an insult to journeymen's intelligence. You put them through 8,000 hours on the job, four years, and up to two years of schooling and then tell them that it takes three of them to train one apprentice. That journeyman comes prepackaged, ready to prepare an apprentice. Ratio relief is not a guarantee. What is guaranteed is that we do have a shortage in this state of licensed technicians.

My fear is that later on down the line we will not have enough people. Hiring apprentices doesn't save money. You usually have to put them through school. You have to train them. You have to bring them up, and hopefully you don't lose them in the weeding out process that this industry creates.

In summary, allowing a 1 to 1 ratio of apprentices to journeymen would create jobs, address the shortage of skilled tradesmen and ensure that the public need for qualified licensed technicians to service the community is me. - Oral and Written testimony

Craig Mann, Territory Manager, Lennox Industries, Inc.

The biggest challenges for my Heating and Cooling Contracting customers is the ability to hire and retain qualified technical employees. Years of a 3:1 hiring ratio in the industry, has resulted in a severe shortage of technicians. Many contracting firms are unable to hire the technical school graduates, due to their inadequate number of journeymen according to Connecticut ratio hiring criteria. Our industry's jobsite ratio has always been 1:1 – set by the state of Connecticut for various reasons, including safety. To keep the hiring ratio at anything but 1:1 does nothing more than hinder employment of these much needed technicians. I do not know of any other industry or trade that require a 3:1 hiring ratio.

Skilled technicians in the HVAC Industry are desperately needed. If the hiring ratio were set to the same criteria as the job site ratio (1:1) – the end result would be the creation of numerous jobs throughout Connecticut. - Written testimony

Joe DeFusco, Custom Mechanics

I do support bill 5146. I have two licensed openings that I cannot fill. I've had an ad running for the past two weeks, and all I get are apprentices, or kids who want to be apprentices. I don't need apprentices. I need licensed guys. I feel that with the one to one we'd be able to hire more apprentices, turn them into licensed guys. It's very expensive for us as a small shop to have an apprentice. It's not cheap labor. You have to pay somebody to learn. The first thing I tell a guy when I hire them is, I will never hold you back. I'll give you whatever you need, whatever tools you need, whatever training you need to become a quality guy. I take offense to people saying cheap labor, because they are not cheap labor.

I had ratio relief, but I don't need apprentices. I need licensed guys, and I don't believe there are enough licensed guys out there. Reducing the apprentice ratio from 3:1 to 1:1 on the hiring will make more licensed individuals available not immediately, but four years down the road when these guys started taking their tests and passing, getting their licenses. I like to look at it like a bottleneck on a highway. Right now, we're all packed in. I don't believe there are enough licensed guys in the trade. - Oral testimony

Jennifer Herrmann, Connecticut Heating and Cooling, Air Temp

I'm here to provide the testimony on behalf of the President Elect, Jeff Leone, who is in favor of this bill. We have a shortage of trained technicians in our industry. Without this ratio being changed, this shortage of technicians is only going to get worse. In our industry, we're losing two journeymen for every new apprentice becoming a journeyman. If this ratio does not change, our industry will be in big trouble.

All we're looking for is to have a one to one hiring ratio, the same ratio as the field working ratio. Some people today will testify that this is a safety issue. Why would it be a safety issue if the ratio on the job site is one to one? By changing this ratio, we will create more jobs and be able to give the end users a fair price.

There are over 650 current apprentices in the HVAC program alone in our state tech schools. It will be very difficult for 650 plus students to finish the apprenticeship program. What is the point if these students go through the program and in the end they can't get trained? It is better off to enter an apprentice program, and if there is not enough journeymen to fill at the end, if one is out sick or not available, to send the apprentice home for the day, but at least he's there, starting his hours. He's at least entered into the program where he has the ability to complete the program. Whereas, if we can't hire them at all, he doesn't get to even begin his hours toward getting a license. - Oral testimony


Michael D'Amico, Apprenticeship Director for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 488

I have twenty years of experience in the electrical industry. Changing the ratio will have a negative impact on the journey-persons that will become license holders. Apprentices will not receive the (required) sufficient hands on training needed to acquire the skill sets to do their jobs correctly and safely. An apprentice capable in the classroom, and able to pass any license examination, if they can not perform the day to day skills of the job after their training is “completed” then we have set them up for failure. Customers may also find themselves with unsafe installations as codes and standards are violated by the unskilled worker.

I have heard complaints by applicants who have horror stories of their so called “training.” Abuses like this would only be magnified by a reduction of the three to one ratio.

There are already guidelines in place for employers to use if they can prove or demonstrate the need for extra apprentices. These extra apprentices come in the way of ratio relief that is either approved or denied on an individual basis by the Department of Labor.

There is no way for one journeyman alone with an apprentice to devote the total time and effort necessary to properly train the apprentice in all aspects of a particular trade. Too often apprentices are treated as a pair of hands to complete one or two jobs then left to fail. This is self evident in the number of apprenticeship program completions and terminations that are reported to the Office of Apprenticeship Training. – Written testimony

David J. Waskowicz, Business Manager, Sprinkler Fitters Local 676

The rationale of the sponsor of this proposal is that it will reduce the shortage of skilled trades people and increase the number of apprenticeships. Yes, you would increase the number of apprentices. With regards to reducing the shortage of skilled trades people, the answer is not having more apprentices, it is in better training for the individuals we have. The on-the-job training is the largest portion of an apprentice's training as the state mandates 8000 hours. This must be quality instruction time for the individual and not some way to reduce crew cost.

With the current 3:1 ratio, the apprentice has a better chance of being exposed to different points of view, work skills and work ethics. Under a 1:1 ratio the training would be affected if every journeyman had his or her own apprentice. The most important item to consider is completion ratios. That is how many apprentices complete their time and what is the company's so called success or failure rate.

Statistics show that some companies complete only 20% of their enrolled individuals. Others are 9% and 13%. This is not a good success ratio. If in fact you multiply the candidates by three, are you setting up their program's success ratio to be cut to 3%, 4% and 7%? If there is a shortage of skilled trades people, then maybe some consideration should be given to larger support of the technical school system. – Written testimony

Michael R. Livingstone, State of CT Apprenticeship Council, Sprinkler Industry

I am in opposition of HB 5146. based on my years of career involvement and education in apprenticeship. Ratios are established to insure that an apprentice would be exposed to different techniques under the supervision of more than one journeyman. Most important is the safety of the apprentice. Under the proposed change, should a journeyman become sick or go on vacation the apprentice would be working with little or no supervision. It is unlikely he would be sent home.

Labor Management Programs complete in the 90% range apprentice to journeyman. The Independent programs sponsors average between 40% and 20% depending on the contractor. It is extremely rare to have an independent program sponsor over 50%. Changing the ratio is not new, it comes up every 3 to 5 years in the legislature or DCP. Running a successful apprentice program requires time, investment and proper supervision. The answer is that Independent Programs have to invest more time and money regarding apprenticeship training and raise their percentages.

In past hearings there was testimony that without additional apprentices they cannot grow their business. Where are the completions? The Construction Industry is fast moving, highly technical and at times very dangerous. High percentage of apprentice graduates should be the only criteria. I served on a sub-committee through the Dept. of Labor regarding the problems apprentices are having passing their occupational licensing exam due to lack of or improper formal training and supervision.– Written testimony.

Thomas Kelm, Business Development Specialist, Sheet Metal Workers International Association – Local Union No. Forty

HB No. 5146 will not reduce the shortage of skilled trade's people as proposed by the new language. What it will do is flood the apprenticeship program with new workers. The Department of Labor with its current work force that monitors the Apprenticeship programs does not have the staff needed to oversee these new apprentices. If the companies that currently have Apprenticeship programs were to promote their programs with the needed training, they would have the workforce in place to continue to expand their market.

I have enclosed some statistics that were obtained from the Connecticut Department of Labor regarding the State Apprenticeship Program for the Sheet Metal Workers License. Since September of 2003 from these 118 companies there have been 476 Apprentices registered in the State Program. 271 or 57% have been terminated from these programs as of February 2007. The most startling thing you will find is that only 4 Apprentices or less than 1% has graduated from the Apprenticeship program.

If the companies had the interests and future for these Apprentices and Vo-Tech students in mind, they would have schooling where they could advance in their training and obtain long lasting careers in the Sheet metal industry. Could it be that their true goal in trying the change the Apprenticeship ratio is cheaper Labor? - Written testimony

Paul Costello, JATC director, N.E.C.A. & Local 90 JATC, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

House Bill 5146 if passed would destroy the proven method of trained skilled workers through apprenticeship. The current system allows an employer to hire and train apprentices in the occupation they are registered to learn the skills of the trade, giving them the skill needed to be a competent journeyperson. I can speak for the union. It doesn't matter if we're union or nonunion. This is an industry issue dealing with apprentices.

I represent the New Haven area of IBEW. My percentage is about a 61/2:1 ratio, so I'm well above the 3:1 ratio. Plumbers, they're around a 12:1 ratio. Most of our Job sites are probably 5:1. Some shops don't have apprentices because of not taking advantage of something they should be, but there other contractors using apprentices.

As Director of an electrical apprenticeship program my greatest fear is receiving a phone call that one of our 100 apprentices registered in our Program was injured or killed while working. By eliminating the current language with the ratios that apply to the occupation you would be allowing apprentices who may not be qualified to perform a task to be working unsupervised or worse along side of another apprentice that does not have the degree of training yet.

The IBEW & NECA JATC's of Connecticut successfully completed over 150 apprentices that have recently received their journeyperson license. We have better than an 85% completion and retention rate in our Programs. The IBEW and NECA JATC's offer apprentices careers in the electrical industry, not just a short term job. We should not exploit young workers as cheap labor but train them properly with the skills to learn a craft and make a good living safely. -Oral and Written testimony

Frank DaCato, Local 777

He is in opposition to HB 5146. I have been involved in apprenticeship for almost 30 years, first as a plumbing apprentice, and then as someone who has stayed involved in different aspects of apprenticeship. In 1981, the Connecticut Department of Labor conducted a pilot procedure, which allowed a 1:1 hiring ratio.

In 1984, both the Department of Labor and the Apprentice Council determined that the pilot was actually having a negative effect on apprenticeship. This was documented in the high increase of apprenticeship turnover and low rates on completion. The Department of Labor noted that many contractors have been using a full complement of apprentices, not for the purpose of training and producing skilled journey persons, but to under-bid contractors on prevailing wage construction.

Violations involving apprentices working without journey persons' supervision are prevalent. One to one situations are not producing the apprenticeship completion, but are hindering graduate apprentices, journey persons from obtaining employment in construction. In other words, once an apprentice did become a journey person if they're lucky enough, they weren't laid off for another apprentice. It is the Department's view that the best solution to the ratio question is an individual case-by-case approach.

The Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee conducted a study regarding apprentice ratio in the past, and their findings were, there's an effective process in place to deal with any unfair labor supply and cost problems for small firms that result for the standard, perhaps journeymen regulations adopted by the State Apprenticeship Counsel. Therefore, no changes in the process are needed. This process is still in effect. I have been an apprentice instructor for both union and nonunion industry. - Oral testimony

Joyce Wojtas, Mechanical Contractors CT

I oppose this bill because the ratio makes a lot of sense for the hiring because as it was explained, when you get to a work site, or the shop, and everyone doesn't show up, at least you've got your bases covered for your apprentices.

If there is a problem, and a small company doesn't have the number of journey people necessary, they can apply to the Labor Department. The Labor Department is liberal as long as the employer is in compliance with all the rules and regulations. Let that be the exception rather than the rule. Leave the rules in place. They've worked, and they've worked for a number of years. - Oral testimony

Cameron Champlin, Local 777

He's against this bill going to a 1:1 ratio. There are a lot of people that don't want to teach apprentices to become a well-rounded journeyman. What they want is cheap labor. These are the people these laws are for. The gentleman from the Labor Department told you there's only 6% or 8% that ever apply for ratio relief, so why change the law for 6% or 8% when there is an avenue that they get more apprentices if they really need?

Most of the people that sat before you today, when asked if they would hire journeymen instead of apprentices, they wouldn't. They're looking at the money, at the bottom line. That's part of the problem. Right now, Steam Fitters Local 777's journeymen to apprenticeship ratio, active journeymen, not retirees, is 12 to 1. That tells you our contractors are not looking to go more than the 3 to 1. Occasionally they do, but that's the bottom line. It's not something that's really needed for this whole industry.

- Oral testimony

Reported by: Juliana Simone

Date: March 30, 2007