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Tony Evers, Governor
Caleb Frostman, Secretary

Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/news/
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

Secretary-Designee Caleb Frostman and Senator Lena Taylor Met with Wisconsin Pipe Trades to Discuss Lead Safety Issues

MILWAUKEE – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman and Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) visited Plumbers Union Local 75 to highlight and discuss safety issues surrounding lead pipes and the abatement process with Wisconsin Pipe Trades in Milwaukee last week.

Lead exposure through drinking water has well-known harmful effects, including damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys. Moreover, damage of this kind is permanent. Even at low levels, lead has been shown to harm the developing brains and bodies of young children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"We want our families to be safe," Secretary-designee Frostman said. "Our Governor always says that what's best for our kids is what's best for our state. Protecting Wisconsin families is paramount; that's why Gov. Evers' budget proposes $40 million for lead pipe removal and $6 million to fund Youth and Registered Apprenticeships. The role of apprenticeships is crucial to building a skilled workforce that can bring remedy to this issue."

Approximately 170,000 lead service lines in Wisconsin need to be replaced. According to a local piping contractor, it takes one full day of a three-man crew consisting of an operating engineer, a laborer and a plumber to replace a service line for a home. Because of the lead safety issues, the need for more skilled trade laborers has significantly increased.

"We have the ability to create a win-win for communities impacted by lead-laterals," Senator Taylor said. "With dollars designated in the state budget to address worker training, we could create sustainable family supporting jobs and address a problem that has been plaguing the state for years."

According to a representative of Plumbers Union Local 75, the hourly wage for skilled workers (e.g. journeyman plumber) in this industry is about $42 per hour, and up to $62 per hour when accounting for pension and health insurance benefits. The skills necessary for this type of labor include math skills, mechanical aptitude, people skills, hard work and dedication.