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AGO 1950 No. 382 - November 14, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington


Under the Apprenticeship Training Program the participant is not required to sign a contract unless said contract complies with the apprenticeship laws and all lawfully adopted standards.

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                                                               November 14, 1950

Honorable A. M. Johnson
Director of Labor and Industries
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 382

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of November 6, 1950, as follows:

            "It has been brought to our attention that an apprentice employed by the Rowe Dental Laboratory in Spokane, Washington, has been terminated because he would not sign the enclosed contract.

            "The Washington State Apprenticeship Council through its Secretary, John Vance, State Supervisor of Apprenticeship, has asked that we obtain an opinion from your office as to the legality of such a contract, where an Apprenticeship Agreement exists.

            "We are attaching copy of Spokane Area Dental Technician Apprenticeship Standards and copy of contract which apprentice refused to sign, and was therefore terminated."


             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            While the Spokane Area Dental Technicians' Apprenticeship Standards are too long to be set forth herein in full, attention is directed to Items (3) and (4) in subdivision B of Section 2 thereof, which are as follows:

            "(3) To obtain in writing an agreement from each employer that he is willing to follow these apprenticeship standards and to determine the adequacy of that employer to give proper training.

            "(4) To see that each apprentice is covered by a written agreement and that all apprenticeship agreements are properly executed."

            Paragraph A of Section 12 of the Standards is as follows:

            "A. The apprentice and his parent or guardian (if he is a minor) shall be required to sign an agreement which shall also be signed by the employer, approved by the Apprenticeship Committee, and registered with the Washington State Apprenticeship Council.  This agreement shall contain all items in these standards that directly affect the apprentice."

            The concluding paragraph 18 of the Standards is as follows:

            "These standards, as approved by the Washington State Apprenticeship Council, are made a part of the apprentice agreement under 'special provisions.'  The signing of the agreement, therefore, binds the parties concerned to compliance with these standards.  Every apprentice and every employer entering into an apprentice agreement shall be given a copy of these standards."

            The authority of the Apprenticeship Council is derived from chapter 231 of the Laws of 1941 (7614-3 to 7614-10 Rem. Supp. 1941).  It is unnecessary to set forth the entire act for the controlling provisions may be epitomized as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Section 1 among other things provides:

            "* * * The Apprenticeship Council with the consent of employee and employer groups shall: (1) establish standards for apprenticeship agreements in conformity with the provisions of this act; * * *"

            Section 2 provides that the Director shall:

            "* * * when so authorized by the Apprenticeship Council, register such apprenticeship agreements as are in the best interests of the apprentice and conform to the standards established by or in accordance with this act; * * *"

            Section 3 provides for local and state joint apprenticeship committees;

            Section 4 establishes and promulgates the standards for apprenticeship agreements, which standards may be summarized as follows:

            Paragraph 1.  The trade or craft involved and that the course of apprenticeship shall not be less than 4,000 hours of reasonably continuous employment.

            Paragraph 2 provides for an enumeration of the divisions in which instruction is to be given.

            Paragraph 3 provides that the instruction shall not be less than 144 hours per year.

            Paragraph 4 requires a statement of the age of the apprentice and establishes the minimum age at sixteen years.

            Paragraph 5 is as follows:

            "A statement of the progressively increasing scale of wages to be paid the apprentice."

            Paragraph 6 provides for a probationary period and authorizes the Director to cancel the apprenticeship agreement after the probationary period is served.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            Paragraph 8 provides that if the employer is unable to fulfill his obligations he may transfer the obligations to another employer.

            Paragraph 9 authorizes the adoption of additional standards in accordance with the provisions of the act.

            Section 5 of the act itself defines apprentice agreements and specifically requires that all such agreements shall conform to the basic standards and other provisions of this act.

            Section 6 of the act provides:

            "The provisions of this act shall apply to a person, firm, corporation or craft only after such person, firm, corporation or craft has voluntarily elected to conform with its provisions."

            It is well settled that a statute which affects the subject matter of a contract is as much a part of the contract as if set forth therein in haec verba.  The Washington cases upon this point are collected inDopps v. Alderman, 12 Wn. (2d) 268, 273 and 274.  While there is no direct statement in your letter of November 6 that the Rowe Dental Laboratory of Spokane has voluntarily elected to conform with the Apprenticeship Act or the Spokane Area Dental Technicians' Apprenticeship Standards it is assumed that the Rowe Dental Laboratory did so elect and that it is bound by both the state Apprenticeship Act and the Standards established in the Spokane Area.

            That the agreement proposed by the Rowe Dental Laboratory of Spokane does not conform to the Apprenticeship Standards in the Spokane Area and with the state Apprenticeship Act is not open to doubt.  Paragraph A of Section 12 of the Standards in question very properly provides that any agreement between the apprentice and employer shall contain all items in the Standards and shall be approved by the Apprenticeship Committee.  Both these requirements are omitted in the Rowe contract.

            You advise that the apprentice in question was dismissed by the Rowe Dental Laboratory because of the refusal to sign the proposed contract.  Under the authority of section 6 of the act and Paragraph 18 of the Standards, the  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] Apprenticeship Council would be well warranted in excluding the Rowe Dental Laboratory from all further participation under the Apprenticeship Training Program unless and until it gives the Director and the council satisfactory assurances of its intention to comply with the act and all lawfully adopted Standards.

            Because the act contains no criminal penalties, no crime was committed by the discharge of the apprentice in question.  If, however, the apprentice is unable to obtain comparable training elsewhere, the discharged apprentice may have an action at law against the Rowe Dental Laboratory for such damage as he is able to establish.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

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