BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY
OF THE STATE OF MONTANA
In the matter of the amendment of ARM 24.21.1003 and repeal of 24.21.415 pertaining to apprenticeship ratios
NOTICE OF AMENDMENT AND REPEAL
TO: All Concerned Persons
1. On November 5, 2021, the Department of Labor and Industry (department) published MAR Notice No. 24-21-385 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed amendment and repeal of the above-stated rules at page 1465 of the 2021 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 21.
2. The department held a public hearing in Helena on December 8, 2021, over the Zoom videoconference and telephonic platform at which members of the public commented. Written comments were received during the public comment period.
3. The department has thoroughly considered the comments made. A summary of the comments and the department's responses are as follows:
COMMENT 1: Numerous commenters stated support for the rules amendments as proposed.
RESPONSE 1: The comments are noted.
COMMENT 2: A commenter stated that the current 2 journeymen to 1 apprentice is outdated and creates a barrier to entry.
RESPONSE 2: The comment is noted. The proposal as adopted here seeks to correct the barrier to entry.
COMMENT 3: Numerous commenters suggested the department continue with the current 2 journeymen to 1 apprentice ratio after the first apprentice while also repealing ARM 24.21.1003(2), which allows increased numbers of apprentices after 60 percent of required training and instruction has been completed.
RESPONSE 3: The department acknowledges the comments. However, the effect of implementation of that suggestion would be to reduce further the number of apprentices training toward journeyman status in Montana. As set forth in the rules proposal, this proposal is undertaken to expand the number of individuals able to enter the workforce so as to expand participation. That need has been balanced against the necessity to ensure safe workplaces and protect all Montanans. The department is confident that its proposal can effectuate both goals.
COMMENT 4: Numerous commenters suggested an amendment to ARM 24.21.1002 to prohibit apprentices from supervising other apprentices.
RESPONSE 4: The comment is noted. However, the comment exceeds the scope of the present rulemaking. It should further be noted that apprentices must be supervised by workers who are not apprentices. As such, including the amendment is unnecessary.
COMMENT 5: Numerous commenters suggested amendment to ARM 24.21.1003(4) to state that "the department will monitor the progress toward completion of all apprentices."
RESPONSE 5: The comment is noted. However, the comment exceeds the scope of the present rulemaking. It should further be noted that the department does monitor progress of all apprentices, and including the provision in rule is unnecessary.
COMMENT 6: Numerous commenters supported repeal of ARM 24.21.415 waiver provisions.
RESPONSE 6: The comments are noted.
COMMENT 7: A commenter suggested that the number of apprentices supervised by a journeyworker should increase based on the level of experience of the apprentices. The commenter noted that it is easier for a journeyworker to supervise apprentices who have more experience.
RESPONSE 7: The comment is acknowledged. The comment additionally supports the logic of ARM 24.21.1003(4), which excludes from the apprentice to journeyman ratio calculation those apprentices who have completed more than 60 percent of on-the-job training and related instruction.
COMMENT 8: Several commenters supported changing the present apprenticeship ratio to 1 to 1 for the first four apprentices, and 2 journeymen to 1 apprentice for all additional apprentices. Others proposed the adoption of a 1-to-1 ratio without limitation. The comment suggests expansion of the ratio further than this will damage industries.
RESPONSE 8: The comment is appreciated for its willingness to recognize the need to expand the present apprenticeship ratio. However, the department disagrees that its proposed ratio expansion will damage any industry. With appropriate monitoring by apprentice sponsors, supervising journeyworkers, and the department, the department is confident that the ratio will protect public safety and health while permitting additional future journeyworkers to enter the trades.
COMMENT 9: Several commenters suggested increasing the 60 percent threshold of ARM 24.21.1003(2) to 75 percent.
RESPONSE 9: The comment is acknowledged. However, such change does not appear to be necessary at this time to protect public safety and health.
COMMENT 10: A commenter suggested that apprenticeship completion should have a time limit to ensure contractors are incentivized to complete their apprentices.
RESPONSE 10: At this time, the department believes the current enhanced monitoring requirements set forth in ARM 24.21.1003(4) are sufficient to ensure sponsors are working to complete apprentices. The department will continue to monitor completion rates to ensure abuse does not occur.
COMMENT 11: Numerous commenters stated opposition to the proposed apprenticeship ratio because of an expressed concern for workplace safety and the quality of training for apprentices.
RESPONSE 11: It is the responsibility of apprenticeship sponsors to ensure appropriate training and supervision of apprentices. These requirements are set forth in administrative rule, see ARM 24.21.302, federal rule, see 29 C.F.R. § 29.5, as well as the apprenticeship sponsor agreements entered by sponsors. The department will continue to monitor apprenticeships across Montana to ensure that sponsors are fulfilling their obligations to their apprentices, providing adequate and safe equipment and supervision, as well as safety training for apprentices. Failure of sponsors to comply with applicable law may subject the program to withdrawal of revocation. See ARM 24.21.405. With these protections in place, the department is confident that the apprentice ratio can be safely implemented.
4. The department has amended ARM 24.21.1003 as proposed.
5. The department has repealed ARM 24.21.415 as proposed.
/s/ QUINLAN L. O'CONNOR
Quinlan L. O'Connor
Alternate Rule Reviewer
/s/ LAURIE ESAU
Laurie Esau, Commissioner
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY
Certified to the Secretary of State January 18, 2022.