Garden City, NY - November 9, 2015 - U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez met today with local labor leaders and elected officials at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant to discuss the importance of apprenticeship programs. The Secretary’s visit came after last week’s celebration of the first-ever National Apprenticeship Week, which highlighted the potential for apprenticeship programs to help rebuild the American middle class by providing more workers with a path to new skills, higher wages, and greater opportunities to advance their careers. Prior to the meeting, Rep. Rice, Secretary Perez and Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council President Dick O’Kane toured the construction site at the plant, where a $37.2 million project is underway to build a massive concrete wall and eastern berm around the facility to protect it from storm surges of up to 18 feet. During superstorm Sandy, the facility was flooded and knocked out of service for 57 days, sending billions of gallons of raw and partially-treated sewage into area waterways. The project employs more than 200 union laborers, including 23 apprentices.
Last week, Rep. Rice introduced H.Res. 522, a resolution that officially designates November 1st through November 7th, 2015 as National Apprenticeship week, recognizes the importance of apprenticeships in developing a well-trained and highly skilled workforce, and commends organizations and employers that actively support apprenticeship programs. The full text of the resolution is available here.
“Apprenticeships are good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the American economy,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “For workers, apprenticeships offer an opportunity to earn while you learn, to get an on-the-job education while at the same time making money, gaining experience, and putting yourself on a career path that leads to better jobs and higher wages. For businesses, apprenticeship programs offer a proven way to recruit and retain a highly skilled, diverse and productive workforce. Apprenticeship programs have the potential to help rebuild the American middle class by preparing our workforce to compete and win in the global marketplace. I’m grateful to Secretary Perez for taking the time to come to our district and talk with us about what we can do to promote and expand apprenticeship opportunities here on Long Island.”
"Today I saw firsthand the instrumental role that apprenticeship play in communities like Long Island. Apprenticeships are a tried and true training strategy that offer a path to the middle class and expands opportunities for working people in America," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "To ensure a highly skilled and trained workforce that can compete with the best and brightest across the world, we must continue critical investments to expand and grow apprenticeships in this country."
“It was a pleasure to have someone from the administration here in Nassau to talk about union apprenticeships,” said Dick O’Kane, President of the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council. “No one gets it better than Secretary Perez. He truly understands the importance and the value of these programs that help to build our middle class.”