News of the day: The Boston Employment Commission 

The Boston Employment Commission (BEC), under the leadership of Director Karilyn Crockett and Chair Travis Watson, has done a great job of stepping up enforcement of the City’s goals. For ongoing projects, the goals are 10% women, 25% people of color and 50% residents. As of last January, Boston’s goals for new projects are 12% women, 40% people of color and 51% residents.

Among the issues raised at today’s monthly meeting:

  • Some contractors continue to conflate their contracts with Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBEs) and the number of tradeswomen on their projects. As we showed in our study of 6 million women’s work hours on Boston’s Big Dig, WBEs actually hire women at lower rates than contractors across the board. We think this makes sense. As long as construction is a male-dominated industry, women business owners cannot risk being painted as a “women company.” Not fair, but the real world. The Big Dig study is available here.
  • We have seen the best and the worst here today. Turner Construction is hitting 9% women’s hours and 37% people of color and 36% Boston residents on Harvard’s $400 million Science and Engineering Complex in Allston. PGTI took the opportunity to point out that Turner is a leader in the region because company leaders– and especially Maureen Kirkpatrick and Allison Stanton– have participated in and supported PGTI, Building Pathways and our sister efforts since our beginnings 10 year ago. They have ensured that our best practices, “Finishing the Job,” are integrated into Turner’s business practices. Proof that the best practices work. The worst today was BC Construction Co. A $4 million job in the middle of neighborhoods of color has 0% women, 6% people of color and 10% Boston residents. The excuses were comical and tragic. “We are trying.” “It’s a small job.” “We shuffle around our one minority worker.” (Really said that and then backtracked.) Commissioner Travis Watson pointed out that there are 526 carpenters and laborers in the Boston Jobs Bank database and there is no excuse for this level of failure. It was suggested that BC Construction might want to stay out of Boston in the future.
  • The most outrageous event of the meeting was the contention– in writing — by New England Foundation Co. (NEFCO) that “Given the rugged nature of our work, the only position that can be safely performed by women is the oiler.” Unfortunately, NEFCO was not in the room. We madenefco letter 4.18two suggestions. First, we asked that the owner of the project, Boston College, and the BEC write to NEFCO and appraise them of their disappointment in the claim that women cannot do the work. Second, we asked the BEC to review their use of the job category “oiler.” The trade is archaic and largely non-existent. One concern is that the category may be a used to add women and people of color to a site without real work and training.
  • The Commissioners concluded the meeting with the discussion of further steps in compliance and implementation of sanctions. PGTI continues to raise concerns about the poor numbers for women across all projects. While women’s work hours have increased and more than half of those hours are being worked by women of color, progress is not being made in the percentage of women’s hours across all City-monitored projects. Check out the data below which indicates that women are getting half as many hours as men. We have requested that the BEC run its own analysis to confirm or contradict these apparent findings.

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