MCALLEN, Texas – South Texas employers that are thinking of starting an apprenticeship program should not fear that if they set one up, their workers will go on strike.

So said Julian Alvarez, the labor representative on the Texas Workforce Commission.

Speaking at the inaugural South Texas Apprenticeship Summit, hosted by South Texas College, Commissioner Alvarez praised union-run apprenticeship programs and non-union apprenticeship programs.

Alvarez (pictured above) gave his views on the matter in a Q&A session towards the end of the summit. Asked about union involvement in apprenticeships, Alvarez said:

“What I will say is that it’s the perception that people have about apprenticeships. When we went to the Toyota plant (in San Antonio) and asked about their workforce needs, they informed me, we’ll never have apprentice-able occupation and within a year they had it. What scared them, just like it scares the folks in the (Rio Grande) Valley, is, people think that when you put an apprentice program together the first thing they (employers) think about is, are you going go on strike on me? Are you going to see them (the workers) picketing?”

Alvarez was quick to dispel such perceptions.

“You’re not going to see that with apprentices. As a matter of fact, there are probably just as many non-union apprentices out there as there are union apprentices in Texas And they are both great models. It just depends on what you want.”

A union apprenticeship is a registered apprenticeship that is administered by a trade union. Like non-union apprenticeships, union apprenticeship programs are sponsored — typically by unionized contracting associations and trade unions representing their trade.

Earlier at the summit, Alvarez gave the keynote address. The title of his speech was: “How Texas is Becoming a National Leader for Apprenticeship Training.”

Here is a video recording of his keynote address:


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