The Lead

Allentown City Council quashes controversial contractor apprenticeship bill 

By: - April 1, 2022 1:17 pm

A view of the skyline in Allentown, Pa. (Getty Images)

An ordinance requiring contractors on large city projects in Allentown to be part of apprenticeship programs was “postponed indefinitely” by City Council on Thursday. 

The 6-0 vote means the bill has been quashed and must be reintroduced again. 

The apprenticeship provision for construction projects worth more than $100,000 was part of a Responsible Contractor Ordinance (RCO) that council passed 4-3 during a Feb.16 meeting where a spill-over crowd of contractors showed up to argue for and against it. 

The ordinance also covered bonding, background checks on lawsuits and criminal records, and other standard compliance matters. 

At the heart of the debate over the ordinance was the requirement that contractors be a part of a Class A apprenticeship program for the past five years. The condition would have made it impossible for some long-time city contractors to meet unless they joined a program and waited five years. 

In Allentown, controversial law requiring contractor apprenticeships on city projects hits snag

After the February vote, Mayor Matt Tuerk, though supportive, sent the ordinance back for revisions that make it clear that it only covers contracts entered into with the city — not city-related authorities.

At the same time, Council Vice President Ed Zucal, a co-sponsor, said further revisions were being considered.

Zucal, Councilmember Joshua Siegel, the original sponsor, and Councilmember Natalie Santos had an amendment proposal on Thursday’s agenda that would have raised the value of projects under the ordinance to $200,000.

Before the discussion began at the brief meeting, Siegel said he was postponing the bill indefinitely.

He didn’t explain why and no further discussion on the issue was held. Siegel could not be reached for comment on Friday. 

Siegel’s motion effectively quashes the bill. It would have to be reintroduced again. 

After the meeting, council President Cynthia Mota told The Morning Call of Allentown that “justice was done.” 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Katherine Reinhard
Katherine Reinhard

Katherine Reinhard, a veteran journalist, is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Lehigh Valley Correspondent and a co-editor of Armchair Lehigh Valley, a Substack newsletter focused on politics in the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton region.