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.