Chris Collins’ administration has eviscerated the Apprenticeship Law. Passed a few years ago over Giambra’s objection, it required contractors on county-funded public works projects to hire firms that had apprenticeship programs. Which generally meant union shops.
I have to admire how this game was played. Positively brilliant.
Collins does not have the votes in the Legislature to repeal the law, passed in 2006 over the objections of then-County Executive Joel A. Giambra. But Collins says he can suspend it because state government has a moratorium on new apprentice-training programs, and because the Legislature failed to act on his proposed rule changes within 60 days.
Collins and his staff caught the Legislature sleeping. The law required the public works commissioner to create the administrative rules by which he would follow the law’s intent.
Giambra’s public works commissioner eventually wrote up a set of administrative rules and followed them, but never gave them to the Legislature for approval.
After learning of the oversight, the Collins administration wrote up a set of rules that rendered the law almost meaningless. Most crucial: Any bidder without a state-certified apprentice training law could simply provide a letter stating they could not get one because the state Department of Labor stopped certifying them under then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
When the County Legislature failed to act on Collins’ rules within 60 days, they went into effect. The 60 days had elapsed Thursday.