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Washington State Governor signs bill requiring refinery workers be apprenticeship graduates

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed ESHB 1817 into law on May 8, 2019. Attending the signing were State Rep. Mike Sells, primary sponsor of the bill and chair of the Committee on Labor and Workplace Standards. Also attending were state senators Rebecca Saldaña, Jesse Salomon and Steve Conway; Washington State AFL-CIO President Larry Brown; WBCTD Legislative Director Neil Hartman; WBCTD Executive Secretary Mark Riker and Luke Esser, government affairs. The Western States Boilermakers attending were IVP-WS J. Tom Baca; IR-CSO Mark Keffeler; WS M.O.R.E.-WO/IR Erik Seaberg; WS M.O.R.E.-WO/IR Trent Sorensen; WS M.O.R.E.-WO Mircha Vorobets; L-242 BM-ST Luke Lafley and L- 502 BM-ST Tracey Eixenberger.

KANSAS CITY, Kan., May 9, 2019 — The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Washington State Building Trades scored a win yesterday when Governor Jay Inslee signed ESHB 1817, requiring outside contractors and subcontractors in Washington State refineries and chemical plants to employ journey-level workers who have graduated from state-approved apprenticeship programs.

Citing a “skilled and trained workforce” as necessary to perform onsite work, the new law also requires workers to complete advanced safety training and to be paid accordingly.

The bill was modeled after SB 54, which was passed in California in 2013. House bill 1817 passed overwhelmingly: 62-36 in the state House and 29-16 in the state Senate.

“Research has shown that training reduces worker injuries, but so does compensation. This represents one of those rare opportunities where a policy hits the triple bottom line by benefiting workers, the economy and the environment,” says Mark Riker, Executive Secretary of the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council.

“By ensuring that workers employed in the dangerous work at refineries have a skill standard through recognized apprenticeship programs, the state is guaranteeing a safer workforce. Union journey-level workers come with a superior skill set that goes beyond a reduced chance of error and increases their ability to prevent accidents from happening.”

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers’ apprenticeship program is approved by Washington State.

“Our apprenticeship program has been recognized as first-rate by owners and contractors alike, and this legislation ensures Washington State refineries will have the best educated workers to perform the job, and that those workers are performing at the highest level of safety,” says Boilermakers International Vice President-Western States J. Tom Baca. “ESHB 1817 is about more than just apprenticeship opportunities, it’s about the products of that union apprenticeship system: skill and safety.”

Boilermakers members began actively advocating for the passage of ESHB 1817 beginning in early February. Advocacy efforts were powered by Boilermakers Western States M.O.R.E. Work Investment Fund through a joint effort with the Washington State Building Trades and sponsored by the Washington State House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards. The bill has the potential to increase annual Boilermaker hours on the West Coast by up to 1 to 2 million a year.

Training and safety requirements will be phased in between now and 2024 with increasing percentages of skilled and trained workers required by January of each year: 20 percent by 2021, 35 percent by 2022, 45 percent by 2023 and 60 percent by 2024.

EHB 1817 full details may be read here: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1817&Year=2019&initiative=#documentSection