GOP Officials Rebel Against Biden’s Diversity Plan

Republican attorneys general are pushing back against a plan from the Biden administration to promote equity and diversity in workplace apprenticeship programs.

The attorneys general from more than 20 states are asserting that the push basically amounts to discrimination based on race.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the proposed rewrite of the National Apprenticeship System rules would ultimately diversify and modernize the on-the-job programs and also improve the quality of the programs while protecting all new workers.

The proposed rules rewrite would mark the first change since 2008.

These new rules changes exemplify the big political divisions about opportunity and fairness in workplaces and educational institutions.

President Joe Biden, along with many states that are led by Democrats, are trying to require increased consideration of DEI programs — also known as diversity, equity and inclusion. At the same time, Republicans are trying to eliminate these initiatives.

The attorneys general of 24 Republican-led states submitted comments that opposed the proposed rule changes. Jonathan Skrmetti, the attorney general of Tennessee, said on behalf of the group:

“We should not let race-obsessed ideology interfere with an important and successful apprenticeship program.”

There are other objections in addition to what the attorneys general had to the proposal as well.

Certain business groups, for instance, says that it would increase their costs significantly, while also decreasing participation in the program and reducing flexibility.

The proposal has many different details, including the fact that it would require 2,000 hours of training happening on the job, as well as eliminating the option for workers to finish sooner if they’re able to prove they are competent.

Ben Brubeck, who serves as a vice president for the Associated Builders and Contractors, said:

“It’s going to discourage apprentices to enroll in these programs.”

The group has chapters that provide the apprenticeship programs that fall under this umbrella.

There are more than 640,000 people who participate in apprenticeship programs that are registered with, and approved by, either the Labor Department or another state apprenticeship agency.

These programs give people on-the-job education and training for workers in a number of different fields, including education, manufacturing and public administration.

Almost 85% of the people who participate are male, and roughly 60% of them are white, according to data from the Department of Labor.

According to the proposed rule, sponsors of the apprenticeship programs would be required to have strategies for recruitment,  hiring and retention of people who come from “underserved communities.”

This would include women, people with disabilities, people of color, military veterans, people who adhere to certain religious beliefs and people from the LGBTQ+ community.

The attorneys general who filed the opposition say that could ultimately run awry of a ruling from the Supreme Court last year that prohibited using race as a factor for admissions decisions at colleges.

They also contend that the new requirements for data collection and oversight exceed the authority of the federal agency.