Study confirms joint labor-management programs outperform non-union ones


SEATTLE (Feb. 28, 2019) — A first-of-its-kind study of apprenticeship programs in Washington state finds that joint labor-management programs outperform non-union multi-employer partnerships and publicly subsidized employer programs in enrollment, completion rates, journey-level wages, and the inclusion and performance of underrepresented groups.

The Washington Apprenticeship Growth and Expansion Study (WAGES), conducted by Olympic Analytics for the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, compared state and federal data from 2017 to determine the impact an apprenticeship’s governance and funding has on measurable outcomes. The detailed analysis found not only that joint labor-management apprenticeship programs (JLMPs) governed with union participation and support outperformed non-union programs, it also found:

●  JLMPs provide a greater Return on Investment for apprentices and taxpayers than comparable non-union programs.

●  Even as public officials have spent millions of dollars to subsidize employer-driver apprenticeship programs, JLMPs in high-growth and strategic industries do a better job of providing high-wage sustainable careers for apprentices.

●  The completion rate for JLMPs was 8 percentage points higher (43.0% vs. 34.8%) than non-union programs. Successful JLMP apprentices achieved journey wages more than 50 percent higher than non-union completers ($34.42/hour vs. $22.93/hour).

Puget Sound Electrical JATC electrician apprentices train in Motor Control classroom lab exercises.

“The WAGES study confirms what makes perfect sense: when the people doing the work have a meaningful stake in a training program, it’s more successful,” said Larry Brown, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “Joint labor-management apprenticeship programs are the gold standard for training the next generation of skilled workers. Elected officials being pressed by corporate interests to spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize lesser training programs should take note.”

Glen Freiberg, Director of the Northwest Laborers Employers Training Trust, agrees.

“The joint labor-management programs have a vested interest in the standards of apprenticeship and training being upheld to the highest expectations in the industry, while also creating opportunities for a diverse workforce and a living wage for the working class — all at no cost to the apprentice,” Freiberg said. “As this study shows, lesser programs have far less success. And success is measured through giving our contractors an edge by providing a safe, highly skilled workforce that they can count on.”

See the full 77-page WAGES report here:
See the 6-page executive summary of the WAGES report here:

The Workforce Development Department of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO seeks to ensure universal access to portable skills and a voice in career development, continuity for those navigating the workforce system, and an economy that works for both workers and businesses. Learn more here.