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    :: Tuesday, January 31, 2006 ::

    Employers, labor unite for training - By Dave Cranshaw and Marion Davis, Providence Business News, RI
    Unions have a long history of being involved in work force training. Matthew M. Bodah, of the Labor Research Center at the University of Rhode Island, said organized labor has been running such programs since the 19th century.

    The most successful programs in this tradition, Bodah said, are the apprenticeship systems in the building trades and in printing. As their industries have changed, unions have also stepped up their efforts to help existing members adjust. Laborers who used to primarily dig trenches, for example, have gotten union-sponsored training in hazardous waste removal and brownfields remediation, opening up new job opportunities, he said.

    Unions also invest in education to remain competitive, especially because union labor tends to cost more, Bodah said. “If you can offer employers a more productive worker, then you can justify the fact that total compensation is higher,” he said.

    John Shalvey, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 99, said that’s why his union focuses heavily on education: “Our training keeps us employed, and it is our best asset.”
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