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Menendez joined union representatives at Edison Job Corps to announce new apprenticeship legislation

The Senator's bill would provide greater opportunities for New Jerseyans of all backgrounds to enter good-paying jobs in the building trades

NEW JERSEY – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) Wednesday joined New Jersey labor union representatives at the Edison Job Corps to announce his plan to introduce new federal legislation to expand access to registered apprenticeship training programs.

This new legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Education to share guidance with school districts to assist counselors in making students aware of such training programs.

“Today, we’re making sure that the folks who are rebuilding America look like America. Which is why, right now, I’m working on a bill in the Senate that would expand awareness of registered apprenticeship programs for high school guidance counselors,” Menendez said. “It’s legislation I’m collaborating on with our friends at the IBEW, the Carpenters Union, the Sheet Metal Workers Union, North America’s Building Trade Unions, and more. The fact of the matter is that high-quality pre-apprenticeship and joint labor-management apprenticeship programs work, and I want to ensure as many Americans as possible can benefit from such programs.”

Currently, many high schools are pushing students to enter colleges and universities when there are growing opportunities for them to enter registered apprenticeship programs and earn starting salaries upwards of $80,000 with no student debt. By increasing the number of pipelines from high schools to registered apprenticeship programs, the federal government can help diversify the ranks of apprentices and expand the pool of people exposed to such training programs.

“Edison is absolutely delighted to collaborate with the esteemed Senator. His tireless dedication to job appreciation and remarkable efforts in infrastructure and workforce development have undeniably sparked a brighter future for New Jersey,” said Ashton Stripling, Executive Director of Edison Job Corps.

“Our international union, The United Brotherhood of Carpenters, is a proud partner in training with UBC National Job Corps training centers so it is a true honor to stand here at the Edison Job Corps academy alongside Senator Menendez to express our thanks for his support in raising career awareness of high paying, skilled jobs to all New Jersey residents,” said Robert Smith, Executive Training Director at Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical College. “The projects that our members work on daily range from infrastructure, to hospitals, to airports, to offices, and educational facilities while generating family sustaining wages and benefits. After touring this facility, you can truly see the pride each student has toward their skill development and projects as well as their determination, working so diligently to transfer the skills taught here to that eventual career path with our contractors! Thank you, Edison, job Corp academy and thank you Senator Menendez!”

“Apprenticeships are not just a job, they’re a career,” said Wayne Martiak, Business Agent for IBEW 456 and serves as President of the Middlesex and Somerset Counties Labor Council. “We thank Senator Menendez for advocating for this important legislation.”

In addition to announcing his plan for new legislation, the Senator toured the Edison Job Corps’ training center where he had an opportunity to meet with students and trainees currently in pre-apprenticeship programs to learn more about how the Job Corps is breaking barriers and preparing young people for careers in building trades and other high skilled sectors. Most recently, eight of Edison Job Corps’ female students completed specialized training with GAF Roofing featuring women entering non-traditional roles in construction.

Sen. Menendez has long championed the rights of workers to unionize, including previous letters to support unionized workers at United Airlines and journalists at The Bergen Record and other Gannett-owned newspapers.

In May, he sent a letter to Medieval Times, urging its CEO and President, to cease all union busting activities and to negotiate in good faith with workers in their Lyndhurst, New Jersey, and Buena Park, California, castles who formed their collected bargaining units. This March, the Senator wrote to Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, to urge the company to stop delaying negotiations with four unionized New Jersey Starbucks stores and negotiate in good faith with them as required by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The Senator has also long advocated for more federal support of apprenticeship programs to help equip young people with the skills to lead successful careers in high-skilled sectors and the building trades.

This May, during a U.S. Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Menendez highlighted how the Inflation Reduction Act is making critical investments to expand apprenticeship programs in the clean energy sector. In March, the Senator joined with Kean University officials and the NJ Association of Colleges and Universities to highlight $18.1 million in funding, which in part will go towards pre-apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing and mechatronics.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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