Baton Rouge, LA (KPEL News) - The Biden administration has rolled out a plan to promote diversity and equity in workplace apprenticeship programs, and Louisiana is joining 23 other states in pushing back on what the lead attorney general calls "race-obsessed ideology." GOP elected officials have been seeking to eliminate programs that require consideration of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), saying they actually promote racial discrimination.

The National Apprenticeship Act was originally passed in 1937 and:

permitted the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to issue regulations protecting the health, safety, and general welfare of apprentices as well as preventing racial, ethnic, religious, age and gender discrimination in apprenticeship programs.

Nearly 650,000 people participate in the apprenticeship program through the federal or state government that provides on-the-job training and education in a variety of fields.

The last time the rules for the program were written was in 2008.

A new rule to the National Apprenticeship Act proposed in January 2024 would add language that the Department of Labor says will require organizations participating in the apprenticeship program to implement strategies that improve participation of people from underserved communities. The diversity, equity, and inclusion-focused part of the rule is summarized in the document's executive summary:

This emphasis on worker protections and equity for apprentices is founded on the recognition that some populations, such as women and people of color, have historically faced systemic barriers to successfully access, participate in, and complete a registered apprenticeship program. This proposed rule seeks to mitigate barriers and facilitate equal access and greater success for underserved communities.

The proposal defines "underserved communities" as women, people of color, military veterans, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people who hold religious beliefs, and anyone with disabilities.

The expanded definition represents only a portion of the proposed change, but Republican states argue that the rule doesn't align with the 2023 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down affirmative action programs which prohibit race as a factor in determining college admissions.

GOP-led states have been considering legislation that pushes back on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti submitted comments opposing the new rule on behalf of Louisiana and 23 other states, writing:

Americans fought for generations to ensure that people would not be treated differently because of the color of their skin, and the proposed DOL apprenticeship rule flies in the face of those hard-earned laws. We should not let race-obsessed ideology interfere with an important and successful apprenticeship program. No American should be deprived of an opportunity because of their race.

Meanwhile, business groups who participate in the program are opposed to the changes because they believe it would increase their costs, reduce flexibility, and decrease participation.

Top 10 States Most Dependent on the Federal Government

See what states are the most dependent on the Federal Government according to

Gallery Credit: Nick Northern

America's Most Popular Governors

An entire survey was put together asking registered voters in each state to vote whether they approve or disapprove of their governor's performance. How do you think Brad Little and the State of Idaho stacked up nationally?

Gallery Credit: Credit: Mateo, 103.5 KISS FM

More From Talk Radio 960 AM