Birmingham City Council to consider Responsible Bidding Ordinance

Bill Blackman, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 136 Business Manager, joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss a responsible bidding ordinance being considered by the Birmingham, Ala. City Council. The ordinance would require any jobs for the city, or for projects that receive city dollars or tax abatements, to include individuals learning a trade through a Department of Labor accredited apprenticeship.

He also discussed scholarships that offer college credits alongside apprenticeships that are successful in growing apprenticeship programs.

A way to encourage union apprenticeship growth

The Responsible Bidding Ordinance was modeled off similar legislation enacted in Indiana and Illinois. It is designed to promote the growth of apprenticeship programs.

Blackman indicated the Birmingham City Council is close to passing the ordinance. It provides reinvestment back into the community by giving individuals the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to begin good paying careers in the trades, Blackman stated.

The ordinance has received some degree of pushback, as many people are not familiar with how apprenticeships work in the construction industry. Building trades apprenticeships are self-funded by local contractors and those working in the trades.

In an effort to help educated elected officials and encourage passage of the ordinance, the IBEW has given city council members tours of its apprenticeship school.

Union scholarships available

Blackman also discussed a scholarship program sponsored by the Alabama Organized Labor Awards Foundation that includes 16 scholarships ranging between $500 to $2,500 for Union members and their families. The money can be used for living expenses, transportation or books — anything the recipient’s pursuit of education requires.

Providing opportunities to earn college credit alongside the apprenticeship training has helped encourage growth of the program, Blackman said. Area high school guidance counselors are evaluated based on how many students receive post-secondary education. They are more likely to encourage apprenticeship programs to students when there are college credits involved because it reflects better on their performance ratings, Blackman explained.


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