Today the United States Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule to rescind the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP), and will instead direct the department’s resources toward registered apprenticeships. The DOL issued this final rule after reviewing the IRAP as required by Executive Order 14016, in which President Biden directed federal agencies to consider rescinding “any orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies” implemented by the previous president’s Executive Order 13801, which promoted IRAPs.

SMART issued the following statement in response:

“We commend the Department of Labor for following through on President Biden’s executive order and recognizing the IRAP initiative for what it was: a bad faith attempt by anti-union contractors and politicians to undermine high-quality union apprenticeship programs and replace them with a watered-down system of certifications. Our registered apprenticeships offer expert training, stellar worker protections and better pay and benefits for workers across the country – no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, creed or place of origin. By rescinding IRAPs and investing instead in registered apprenticeship programs, the Department of Labor has ruled in favor of workers and their ability to find good, union jobs and reliable pathways to the middle class.”   

The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2022 and will go into effect on November 25, 2022. Beginning on the effective date, DOL will no longer recognize Standards Recognition Entities (SREs) or IRAPs.

Today, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, officially codifying this groundbreaking piece of legislation into law. In response, SMART issued the following statement.

“By signing the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden has once again acted on his campaign promise to be a president for working Americans. Once implemented, the Inflation Reduction Act will help alleviate rising prices for working families by cutting the cost of healthcare, lowering utility bills and making massive investments in green energy and American manufacturing – all with strong labor standards that will help create good, union jobs. Unlike the past administration, this legislation will see absolutely no tax increases for small businesses and families that makes less than $400,000 a year – instead, corporations will finally be held accountable and pay their fair share. And most importantly for our members, SMART workers will be called upon to take on the green energy jobs that this bill creates. We commend President Biden for signing this bill, and we look forward to meeting its demands.”

Today, the Biden Administration released a fact sheet intended to help schools, educators, families and children safely prepare to return to school this fall. As part of its efforts to help local education administrators ensure schools are ready to reopen, the White House noted its collaboration with SMART, SMACNA and NEMI – as experts in indoor air quality, HVAC, ventilation and energy efficiency – and linked to SMART’s “Better Air in Buildings” web page. In response, SMART issued the following statement:

“We welcome the Biden Administration’s continued willingness to collaborate with organized labor, and we commend the White House’s Back to School 2022 fact sheet: intended to give every school the tools to prevent COVID-19 spread and stay safely open throughout the year. SMART appreciates the White House’s partnership as we work to keep teachers, students and families safe through the upcoming school year, and our members across the country are ready, willing and able to perform the work needed to keep schools open safely. Find more information from SMART and from NEMI.”

Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. In response, SMART issued the following statement.

“SMART applauds the work of the United States House and Senate for pushing this vital piece of legislation across the line for working families across our country. The Inflation Reduction Act will combat rising prices, cut the cost of healthcare for working Americans and invest billions of dollars into clean energy facilities and making homes and commercial buildings energy efficient. Importantly, the strong labor standards attached to the tax credits for production, energy efficiency and investment will help create good, union jobs – and SMART members are the workers with the skills and expertise to take on those jobs, from retrofitting schools to building green energy facilities. Our members are ready to meet the demands of this bill and will play a crucial role in solving the climate crisis.”

Today, President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, codifying legislation that will strengthen America’s ability to build, expand and modernize semiconductor facilities. In response, SMART released the following statement.  

“We commend President Biden for taking swift action and signing the CHIPS and Science Act into law. Not only will the CHIPS and Science Act invest billions of dollars into the semiconductor industry – expanding our national capacity to develop chips and incentivizing companies to increase production – it will mandate that manufacturing to happen in America, and it will support good-paying, union construction jobs by requiring Davis-Bacon prevailing wage rates for facilities built with CHIPS funding. Companies are already responding to the passage of this legislation by making historic investments in American semiconductor manufacturing. SMART members are uniquely qualified to take on this work, and we look forward to taking on that responsibility.”  

Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the CHIPS and Science Act, sending the bill – which includes $39 billion to build, expand and modernize semiconductor facilities in the U.S. – to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. In response, SMART issued the following statement:

“We applaud both the United States House and the Senate for investing in the future of our country. The billions of dollars that the CHIPS and Science Act will direct to the semiconductor industry will expand our national capacity to develop chips and incentivize companies to increase production – and most importantly, it will require that manufacturing to be made in America. We also welcome the provisions in the bill that will put union members to work building new manufacturing plants, helping facilitate the growth of a skilled American workforce. The passage of this legislation will bring the expertise of union tradespeople into high demand; tens of thousands of SMART members across this country are ready to answer the call.”  

The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) applaud the efforts of the Biden Administration as they continue to innovate and press forward to ensure safe and clean air. The air we breathe within our buildings and schools must be safe for the people who live, learn and work in them. This clean air endeavor is of the upmost necessity, and we believe the administration is working to place that importance front and center with their efforts.

SMART and SMACNA have a vested interest in the success of the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge. The training, skills, and certifications our members have in indoor air quality, ventilation and filtration is the cornerstone of our craft. The quality of training and work our members and contractors do are important to us, as is the people who breathe the air that we deliver.

SMART’s partnership with SMACNA has been providing skilled, trained, and certified workers to respond in a timely manner to meet industry demands for more than a century.

SMART, with more than 203,000 members, provides classroom, hands-on, on-the-job and rapid response training to its members through federal and state registered apprenticeships in more than 150 state of the art training centers located throughout the United States and Canada.

SMACNA, representing 3,500 signatory contracting firms with more than 100 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and Brazil, employ the SMART member apprentices (in an earn-while-you-learn program) who are mentored by trained, skilled and certified journeypersons.

SMART and SMACNA have witnessed the ups and downs of the HVAC industry in the past. Our membership and contractor base has always adapted to the challenges and grown with the needs of the industry. We feel confident in the ability of SMART, SMACNA and other Contractor Partners to meet and exceed the needs of the work ahead.

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House launched its Clean Air in Buildings Challenge to improve indoor air quality in buildings. This is a component of the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.

The challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants indoors. The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge highlights a range of recommendations and resources, with significant input from SMART, for improving ventilation and indoor air quality, especially with the risk of spread of COVID-19.

Key actions outlined in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge include the creation of a clean indoor air action plan, Optimization of fresh air ventilation, the enhancement of air filtration and cleaning, and community engagement, communication and education around the importance of enhanced air ventilation.

In response, SMART issued the following statement.

“We appreciate the continued efforts of the Biden administration to address indoor air quality to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne viruses. Despite its importance, poor ventilation has been a widespread and persistent problem in buildings for decades. Proper ventilation is not only a key to our recovery, but it will also help cut building emissions, lower energy costs, ensure systems are meeting design intent and make buildings safe for occupants. HVAC systems are complicated, but SMART members and our training programs set the standard for the work that is required to ensure buildings are safe and healthy. Recent passage of the American Rescue Plan Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation will help buildings have the resources they need to improve indoor air quality. Employing a skilled, trained and certified workforce to complete this work, is the surest way to ensure federal dollars are used effectively and efficiently to protect public health.”

Today the Department of Labor announced a notice of proposed rulemaking updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) regulations. In response, SMART issued the following response.

“We welcome the Department of Labor taking steps to update and modernize the DBRA to reflect advancements in construction technology. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time. As the Biden administration administers the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernization of the DBRA is necessary to help ensure fair wages and protect workers in the construction industry. We look forward to working with the administration to finalize the rule.”