Spokesman Review 11.15.2021

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The Spokesman-Review - 11/14/2021

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LETTERS • FEEDBACK • COMMENTARY

GUEST OPINION

SUSTAINING SUCCESS BIG PART OF APPRENTICESHIP WEEK By Mike Brown and Brett Wideman Nov. 15-21 marks our country’s seventh National Apprenticeship Week (NAW). The week is traditionally celebrated with proclamations, showcase events, outreach and education activities and registered apprentice profile stories of success. These are all important and meaningful activities that we applaud and promote. Information on activities throughout our nation can be found at: apprenticeship.gov/national-apprenticeship-week We are grateful that National Apprenticeship Week proclamations are expected this week by the Spokane and the Spokane Valley city councils. Additionally, Spokane Community College will conduct outreach and showcase activities throughout the week. This year, we believe it is especially important to share the extensive training commitment that registered apprentices make to achieve journey-level status. As our country begins massive investments in desperately needed infrastructure upgrades and aggressive increases in electrification, there have been many overtures to job creation. And yet, there is little common understanding, even among many

LETTERS

policymakers, of the job creation process within the skilled trades. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package passed by the Congress recently makes investments over the next five years in areas including roads and bridges, broadband, water and energy systems. While we are ready to get to work, it is important to recognize that most of this work requires a highly skilled workforce, which has not been replenished at a sustainable rate over the past decades. In the package, $73 billion is allocated for clean energy. This involves new power lines, rebuilding old electric grids and expanding green energy. In order to meet climate change goals involving strategies such as the electrification of public transportation and bringing more electric vehicle charging stations online, transmission lines must be able to handle higher voltage capacity. We see great opportunity to grow our skilled-trades workforce in the coming years; however, it is important to realize that filling these positions is not as simple as posting a want ad in local newspapers. An electrical grid lineman, for instance, having reached journeyman level will have trained through a registered apprentice-

ship program for 10,000 hours (five years). During hands-on training, journeyman-to-apprentice ratios are also critical, often one-to-one. Further, a journeyman will complete annual continuing education units throughout their career. As new technology is introduced, specialized training and even new certifications are necessary. A lineman frequently works in some of the most dangerous conditions imaginable, including ice storms, fire storms, wind storms and other weather events. It is critical that the established high standards of registered apprenticeship training programs be maintained to protect the workers and provide the highest level of product and services to the consumers. Welders, plumbers, HVAC/R technicians and steamfitters also require up to 10,000 hours of supervised training to reach journey-level status. This is crucial due to the precision craftsmanship needed in hospitals, schools, labs and our homes. Not all apprenticeships are created equal. According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, “Be cautious. If a company hires you informally as an ‘apprentice,’ and the apprenticeship is not

officially registered with the state or federal government, you will not receive the benefits of a registered apprenticeship, including working as a journey-level professional.” Registered apprenticeships are often appropriately referred to as the “earn-while-you-learn” model. This is one of the most powerful economic instruments that has built and sustained the middle class in our nation’s history. The model requires a strong working relationship between the employer and the registered apprenticeship trainers. We are pleased to report strong mutually beneficial programs here in Eastern Washington. While we are eager to play our part in rebuilding our infrastructure and addressing climate change through increased use of green electricity and renewable energy, we must insist that workers in the skilled-trades sectors are trained at the highest levels through registered apprenticeship programs. Especially in the electrical and pipe trades, the cost of using undertrained and uncertified labor will not just be inferior work product, but lives. Both of us having recently served on Spokane’s Sustainability Action Subcommittee worked

JOE HELLER

Anti-vax costs us all It was recently reported that nearly four times as many law enforcement officers died of COVID-19 from 2020-21 than were killed in the line of duty. Although law enforcement won’t release the vaccination status of these officers, it is safe to say that the vast majority of the 550 or so officers who have died of COVID during this pandemic were unvaccinated. Evidently, these facts don’t bother Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, whose office is advertising law enforcement positions by purposely stating that mandatory vaccinations are not required. If they had been required, most of these officers would be alive today. Law enforcement and firefighters across the nation are classifying COVID deaths as an in-the-line-of-duty death, which in Washington state allows for a state death benefit of $266,000 to the spouse or heir, a state pension American Education Week: Recognition, reminder and opportunity of 60% of the officer’s salary for As the IEA celebrates American Education Week, Nov. 15-19, we encourage Idahoans to reflect on the many life, and other benefits. These benefits public education provides, along with what needs to be done to ensure that our state has strong and benefits may be justified for a vibrant public schools for generations to come. There are both opportunities and challenges ahead for Idaho public service employee killed on public schools and the decisions that are made by our elected officials and our populace will impact students the job, but to pay a COVID death Copyright � 2021 Spokesman-Review around11/14/2021. the state. benefit for a cop14, or firefighter November 2021 5:43 am (GMT -8:00) First and foremost, recognition. American Education Week is a great opportunity to thank those who help who refuses to be vaccinated is students learn, grow and prosper. That includes classroom teachers, support staff who serve in many different ludicrous.

with dozens of other citizens and have proven that progressive climate change policies need not be at odds with the energy sector. Spokane’s recently passed Sustainability Action Plan involves compelling language addressing a sustainable workforce. There is no reason that a dedication to protect, preserve and promote our natural resources should adversely affect our human resources. While Spokane is leading in addressing climate change, it is also a leader in registered apprenticeship use. As federal infrastructure funding becomes available in our Eastern Washington region, opportunity abounds to grow our bench of desperately needed registered apprentices. We wish all registered apprentices, aspiring registered apprentices and the employers, trainers and academic institutions that support them a happy National Apprenticeship Week. Keep up the great work! Mike Brown, assistant business manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 77. Brett Wideman, business manager, Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union No. 44.

to better ensure a commitment to showing we care about this world, it’s future and the generations that will be affected by our choices today. This matter will not go away. Our decisions are crucial not only to standards of living, but to life itself. It is not too late to act. There is hope, and it is best found in the actions we participate in, and to engage in processes that hold leaders and powerful interests to account. Jim Young Volunteer, Food and Water Action Spokane

Monaghan deserves honor As a low-ranking veteran of the Vietnam War who came home to suffer the scorn of many of my fellow citizens for about a decade, I stand with Hazel Hoeft’s repudiation of attempts to remove Ensign John Monaghan’s statue from downtown Spokane (“Monaghan was a hero,” Nov. 11), precisely on all of the grounds that she raises. While Vietnam War architect Henry Kissinger has the consolation of the Nobel Peace Prize, and anti-war activist Jane Fonda suffered no consequence from posingPowered on an enemy anti-aircraft by TECNAVIA gun, while benefiting from her stellar career in this country,