Federal and state workforce diversity goals apply to federal Infrastructure spending. Without significant changes, MA DOT, DCAMM and MassPort will fail.
Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (aka the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) which will invest $110 billion in much needed new funds for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure work across the US over the next five years.
However, without concerted efforts to change current practices in Massachusetts, women and people of color will not benefit equitably from these jobs, and key state agencies will continue to not follow the laws regarding diversity in federal and state spending. Over the last ten years, MA DOT, who will be disbursing a little over half of the $9 billion in MA’s infrastructure spending, has actively refused to engage in best practices for meeting workforce goals that other state agencies like the UMass Building Authority and the MA Gaming Commission developed. DCAMM and MassPort have also rejected repeated efforts to engage.
In fact, a 2/23/22 Audit from the Office of the State Auditor, Suzanne M. Bump, reports that one state agency (DCAMM), over 2 years on over $2B of construction, did not meet goals for women on 95% of their projects completed in the audited period (Jan 1, 2019 – Dec 31, 2020), and 61% of the projects did not have a single hour worked by a woman. 28% of their projects did not have a single hour worked by a person of color.
Without a sea change in how DCAMM, MA DOT and MassPort do business, they will continue to fund discrimination.
Diversity goals can be met
By comparison, the UMass Building Authority is meeting workforce goals on 99% of their projects, and exceeding goals on 95% of their projects on five campuses, across the state, in urban and rural areas. The MA Gaming Commission exceeded their workforce goals on 100% of their projects. The only difference is leadership.
A useful tool in this discussion – Congressional testimony
In February of 2022, Liz Skidmore, a PGTI co-convenor and Carpenter Business Rep, was invited to submit written testimony on diversity in infrastructure spending to a hearing by the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth.
This 7-page testimony has been described as a master class in workforce diversity and public spending and can be found here . (The longer testimony which includes all referenced documents. can be found on the Committee Hearing page, here.)
Your help is needed to push MA DOT, DCAMM, MassPort and other non-complying state agencies to use best practices and meet the federal and state workforce hiring goals attached to these dollars.
Please share this with elected and appointed officials and ask them what they are going do to ensure they are not continuing to fund discrimination, and instead how they will commit to meeting the state and federal workforce goals for the infrastructure spending.
There’s a how-to manual
If they say they don’t know how to do it, we have good news. In partnership with the state agencies and others who ARE both using and creating best practices, PGTI has recently updated the how-to manual, Finishing the Job. It’s an excellent place to start.
Roughly how the Bipartisan Infrastructure dollars will be distributed; screen shot from a US DOL webinar.
PGTI: The Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues is completing it’s 13th year. This year we published a book chapter on our founding and how our multi-stakeholder collaboration was able to triple the percent of women in the trades in Massachusetts. Read the story of how we did this together at Policy Group on Tradeswomen’s Issues: A Collaborative Learning Community Crushing the Barriers to Women’s Careers in the Construction Trade. You can purchase the book, Organizing for Power- Building a Twenty-First -Century Labor Movement in Boston, here. Our brother at the Massachusetts Building Trades Council, Dan McNulty, added to our story with a paper he researched and wrote. Local tradeswomen leaders tell their stories of how the movement has been built in A Recent History of the Massachusetts Union Tradeswomen Movement V2.
We have reached many milestones in this past year including the increase in women in apprenticeship to 10.3%. And the absolute number of women in the trades in Massachusetts went up during the pandemic, a trend which undercuts the historic problem of women being laid off first.
Also during the pandemic, the number of women interested in the trades and attending Build A Life That Works’ Tradeswomen Tuesdays never dropped off. We now have over 800 qualified and interested women in the Build A Life pipeline to apprenticeship and work in the trades. This is consistent with reports that there are more women working in the trades than there were before COVID.
In addition to multi-stakeholder collaboration, PGTI’s success is built on the Integrated Supply and Demand Strategy which means that women get jobs. On our Targeted Projects, PGTI partners closely monitor to ensure that the numbers of women meet or exceed project targets and that women stay employed to gain the hours and the skills needed to stay in the industry. Massachusetts tradeswomen have worked on over $7 billion of targeted projects over the past decade and their percentage of the work hours is almost 8%, higher than the federal mandate and way higher than the national average. To ensure that even more women are getting work in the trades in the future, this year we launched PGTI’s Workforce Diversity in Public Construction Initiative. Working with the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of the Inspector General, public builders all over the state are being made aware of the requirement for 6.9% women’s hours on all public construction in Massachusetts.
One of the most important developments in the past year has been the growth of BUTS, Boston Union Trades Sisters. With over 500 women on their Facebook page and dozens of women attending regular event, BUTS is providing tradeswomen with the support to survive apprenticeship and thrive in the industry. They are making the connections to the sisters, nieces, school friends and more that will continue to grow the pipeline for women in Massachusetts.
The PGTI meeting schedule is still every other month and rotating between the 10 am start time that is easier for us girls in the offices and 4pm start that makes it possible for the tradeswomen coming off site at the end of the day to participate. The day of the month has recently changed to accommodate conflicts with some union meetings.
PGTI now meets every other month on the second Wednesday. Here is the 2022 schedule:
February 9, 10 – noon August 10, 4 – 6pm
April 13, 4 – 6pm October 12, 10 – noon
June 8, 10 – noon December 14, 4 – 6pm
Please join us. We still start our meeting with the mantra we created 13 years ago.
We are in this together
There is no silver bullet
We will never never give up
Launching V.9 of “Finishing the Job: Best Practices for a Diverse Workforce in the Construction Industry”
Today we launch Version 9 of Finishing the Job, the PGTI manual of Best Practices for a Diverse Workforce in the Construction Industry.
The first version of Finishing the Job, was created in 2013. This was and continues to be a multi-stakeholder collaborative project to collect proven strategies for increasing both gender and race diversity in the construction workforce. The manual is organized as a set of checklists for industry stakeholders. These best practices have been tested and evaluated on PGTI’s Targeted Projects which, 11 years later, amount to almost $7 billion of construction across Massachusetts. On those Targeted Projects, women have exceeded the 45-year-old target of 6.9% women’s hours and, at 27%, workers of color, have had nearly double the share of work called for in the underwhelming state goal of 15.3% “minority hours.” A comparison with data from projects across the state where Finishing the Job is not being used shows how effective these Best Practices are.
The work of the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Centers and their partners across Massachusetts has increased the percent of women in union apprenticeship to 10.3%. This has been key to the successes on the PGTI Targeted Projects. The Targeted Projects are the “demand side” and the apprenticeship programs are the “supply side” of PGTI’s Integrated Supply and Demand Strategy. We think V.9’s new and improved “Checklist for Training and Apprenticeship Programs” will help the JATCs to go even faster and farther in diversifying their apprentice classes. Recent changes in federal apprenticeship regulations have strengthened the standards for greater diversity in apprenticeship. Working with those who helped revise those regulations, we have created an improved Training and Apprenticeship Checklist, one that we hope will be a model across the country, a tool that can assist Apprenticeship Programs in working towards the new federal goal of 35-40% women in construction apprenticeship. As always, we welcome your feedback and invite you to participate in future PGTI meetings where we will continue to innovate and improve Best Practices for a Diverse Construction Workforce.
This gallery contains 4 photos.
Since PGTI and the Building Trades Unions began partnering with staff in Massachusetts Vocational Technical High Schools to ensure greater access and support for young women in construction-related education programs, the percent of females in these programs has steadily increased. … Continue reading
The latest data on the participation of underrepresented groups in union registered apprenticeship shows continued progress in diversifying our union labor workforce.
For the 10th consecutive year, both the number and percent of the women in union apprenticeships in Massachusetts has gone up. That doesn’t mean things are perfect for tradeswomen in MA – they’re not; there’s lots more to do – but it does mean we’ve continued to be successful in increasing our numbers, and that is worth a moment of celebration .
Much appreciation to all the partners in PGTI’s integrated supply and demand strategy who are helping make this happen – tradeswomen, union apprenticeships, union contractors, local union staff, compliance officers, government officials, elected officials and more. As far as we’ve been able to get info, MA has the highest participation rate of women in apprenticeship in the US.