Longview apprentice workers miss out on recent federally funded projects | Government and Politics

Longview’s resolution does have an exemption clause if the apprenticeships conflict with state or federal demands.

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Public Works Director Ken Hash said while he has cited that clause as the reason, he isn’t entirely sure what federal rules are causing the issue. He said he has been following directives from the Department of Transportation, which helps cities obtain federal project funding.

“I have nothing in writing,” Hash said. “The DOT has just told me to take this out or you don’t get your construction money.”

Organizers outside Longview also have struggled to determine how the local ordinance would create conflict. Seattle-based labor lawyer Kristina Detwiler wrote to Hash in June 2020 after being contacted by Bridges. In her letter, Detwiler argued there was no evidence the apprentice use requirement posed an issue for Equal Employment Opportunity laws or a federal highway rule on the minimum number of trainees.

Hash said dropping the apprenticeship requirement likely went against the spirit of the resolution and the similar program used by Washington DOT, even if it was the right financial call. He added that his kids all came up through training or apprentice programs, so he appreciates their importance.

“I really want this to work. But when the people who have the money say you can’t do it or you won’t get the money, then we have a problem,” Hash said.