After being personally appointed chairman of the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council (WIC) by then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2008, Eddie Rispone used the power of his position to usher in an apprenticeship program designed to replace trained Louisiana workers with young and unskilled labor in order to yield higher corporate profit margins.
Between 2011 and 2015, Rispone — a wealthy businessman himself — advocated for and passed the Louisiana Apprenticeship tax credit, which would award tax incentives for businesses that institute apprenticeship programs designed to skirt regulations preventing them from hiring cheap labor.
Nearly a decade earlier, in 2003, Rispone advocated for similar apprenticeship tax credits as chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in Louisiana; an organization with a focus on sharply slashing labor and wage regulations that protect workers.
With Rispone as chairman, ABC supported the Federal Job Creation Act of 2003, which allowed companies to hire a higher rate of low wage and apprentice workers — likely at the expense of seasoned and trained employees in Louisiana, who cost businesses more money to employ.
Local union leaders sharply critiqued apprenticeship programs like Rispone’s. “Apprenticeship programs allow sponsors to employ apprentices at lower rates of pay than fully-trained workers, but only in exchange for providing substantive training,” AFL-CIO Building Trades Department President Edward Sullivan wrote in a letter in 2003. “Any misuse of the apprenticeship system undermines the industry’s future, and potentially defrauds construction workers.”
And as late as 2011, Rispone held multiple private, closed-door meetings to advocate for the apprenticeship program in his long attempt to pull the rug from underneath Louisiana’s workforce in order to yield corporations higher profit margins in Louisiana.
Rispone will need the support from Louisiana’s workforce should he want to replace incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards in November’s runoff election. And with his long record of attempting to defraud Louisiana’s workers, it remains unclear if he will get them.