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Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

OFCCP’S MEGA CONSTRUCTION PROJECT PROGRAM
BASIC FACT SHEET

 

Background.

Jobs in construction require skills, dedication, and commitment, and in return provide decent wages, benefits, and the satisfaction of being part of a growing middle class that provides families with a sense of integrity, worth, and pride. Construction work is relatively well paid — the median annual wage for construction trades occupations in May 2015 was $46,290, and the median hourly wage $19.72, 13 percent greater than the median hourly wage for all occupations of $17.401 — and most construction jobs come with retirement benefits and with health benefits packages.2 Yet for the past 40 years, sex and race disparities in the trades have stubbornly persisted.

Recognizing that construction jobs are a pathway to the middle class, women and minorities have long pushed for opening up those jobs to a more diverse population of workers. As recently as 2006–2010, almost 60 percent of construction trades jobs were held by white men.3 More specifically, only 2.7 percent of workers in construction and extraction occupations in 2015 were women; only 6.9 percent and 1.3 percent were African American and Asian American, respectively.4 While Hispanic representation was relatively high at 33.3 percent, Hispanics faced other challenges, such as segregation into lower–paying construction occupations (for example, Hispanics were 45.5 percent of construction laborers but only 19.3 percent of electricians).

Veterans and individuals with disabilities also face challenges to working in the trades. In 2015, only 6.5 percent of employed male veterans worked in construction and extraction occupations, compared to 9.8 percent of employed male non–veterans.5 And despite the fact that millions of people with disabilities work in construction trades,6 discriminatory attitudes against them and failure to reasonably accommodate their disabilities continue.7

In addition, when members of underrepresented groups are employed in construction trades, they all too often experience harassment and discriminatory, deliberate exposure to dangerous conditions on construction sites.8

BLS projects that employment in construction and extraction occupations will grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, increasing from 6.5 million to 7.2 million jobs9 — a bigger increase than any other industry.10 It is crucial that the barriers that have prevented greater access to these jobs by underrepresented groups in the past not continue as this labor force grows.

OFCCP has responsibility for ensuring that contractors that receive taxpayer dollars meet their affirmative action obligations under the law and have nondiscriminatory hiring and employment practices. It enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Together these laws make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government — including construction contractors and subcontractors11 — to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran.12 They also require contractors to take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity.

The Mega Construction Project Program.

To help overcome the barriers to increased diversity in construction trades, OFCCP recognizes that a proactive, intensive strategy is more effective than merely doing enforcement after construction contractors have completed all or much of their work. In each Mega Construction Project (MCP), OFCCP focuses all the tools in its toolbox — community outreach, compliance assistance, and compliance evaluation — to engage the different stakeholders in the community from the earliest stages of the project. OFCCP staff bring their relationships with the relevant federal, state, and local government agencies, their knowledge of local construction contractors, labor unions, and community–based organizations, and their long experience enforcing compliance standards to bear on each MCP. Because of this intensive and “front–end” approach, OFCCP believes that MCPs are the most effective strategy for achieving contractors’ compliance with OFCCP’s regulations and, ultimately, for increasing the representation of women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans in the trades. That is why, building on its work on existing MCPs, OFCCP is now launching a comprehensive MCP Program that utilizes new, standardized processes, expanded resources, experienced new staff, and appropriate agency oversight and is bringing more expertise to the challenge by adding a national coordinator for the MCP Program.

OFCCP made the strategic decision to focus on MCPs in order to concentrate its limited resources on the construction projects that have the most potential for making a positive economic difference in a community today and into the future. MCPs can have immediate impacts on contractor and subcontractor recruitment and hiring practices and can help build robust pipelines of applicants that include qualified women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans13 who can be connected with available employment opportunities in construction trades. They also can help contractors and unions — many of whom are concerned that many in the construction workforce are nearing retirement age and that there are insufficient younger workers to replace them — to ensure a continued supply of qualified labor from the demographic groups that will increasingly make up the labor force of the future.

In selecting MCPs, OFCCP works with the General Services Administration and other federal agencies to identify large, high–profile projects when they are funded, long before any construction begins. This early intervention with contractors creates the necessary conditions for increased recruitment of diverse applicants. The MCPs provide a structure in which OFCCP:

  • Conducts outreach, regularly convening all the stakeholders in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Committees — including the project funding agency, prime contractor, subcontractors, unions, apprenticeship and pre–apprenticeship programs, American Job Centers, worker centers, community colleges, Tribal Employment Rights Offices, Women’s Apprenticeship and Non–Traditional Occupations grantees, other community resources that can supply qualified workers, and other community organizations — to share ideas, linkages, resources, and data;
  • Provides ongoing compliance assistance to the prime contractor and subcontractors on the MCP regarding their nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations; and
  • Evaluates the prime contractor’s and subcontractors’ EEO compliance and works with them on an on–going basis to improve that compliance in real time, when job opportunities are available.

OFCCP’s Selected Mega Construction Projects.

Projects selected for the MCP Program are valued at $25 million or more and are expected to last for at least one year. They are located in all OFCCP regions. The program reflects a mix of highway and other kinds of construction projects, ensuring that OFCCP has the jurisdiction to address inclusion of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.14 Some projects are located on or near Indian reservations, making them eligible for Indian preference.

As of August 1, 2016, OFCCP had 35 open MCPs, distributed across all six regions and in 27 district offices (over half of our field offices). The selected projects range in value from $25 million to over $5 billion, and in duration from 1.5 to 35 years. They have an estimated combined total value of almost $29.5 billion.

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

Through the MCP Program, OFCCP can make a real difference in employment opportunities for the thousands of women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans who have the qualifications, experience, and determination to work on large, federally funded or federally assisted construction projects in their communities.

To learn more about our Mega Construction Project Program,
please see https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/mcp/mcp.htm.

 


1 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Occupational Employment Statistics, “May 2015 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, United States,” available at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#47–0000 (last accessed July 19, 2016).

2 In 2015, of employees in construction, extraction, farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, 64 percent had access to retirement benefits, and 73 percent to medical benefits. BLS News Release, “Employee Benefits in the United States — March 2015” (July 24, 2015), USDL–15–1432, Table 1, “Retirement benefits: Access, participation, and take–up rates, National Compensation Survey, March 2015,” and Table 2, “Medical care benefits: Access, participation, and take–up rates, National Compensation Survey, March 2015,” available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ebs2.pdf (last accessed May 5, 2016).

3 The exact percentage of white men was 58.4 percent of all construction trades and helpers occupations combined. Calculated from U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, “EEO–1w. Detailed Census Occupation by Sex and Race/Ethnicity for Worksite Geography, Universe: Civilians employed at work 16 years and over, EEO Tabulation 2006-2010 (5-year ACS data),” National Level (downloaded from http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=EEO_10_5YR_EEOALL1W&prodType=table July 10, 2016) (“ACS Detailed Occupation Tabulation 2006–2010”). This includes 24 construction occupations, consisting of all the occupations in the “Construction and Extraction” occupation category (Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) 47–0000) except: first–line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers 6200 (SOC 47–1011); construction and building inspectors 6660 (SOC 47–4011); hazardous materials removal workers 6720 (SOC 47–4041); rail–track laying and maintenance equipment operators 6740 (SOC 47–4061); and the extraction occupations (derrick, rotary drill, and service unit operators, and roustabouts, oil, gas, and mining 6800 (SOC 47–50YY); earth drillers, except oil and gas 6820 (SOC 47–5021); explosives workers, ordnance handling experts, and blasters 6830 (SOC 47–5031); mining machine operators 6840 (SOC 47–5040); and miscellaneous extraction workers 6940 (SOC 47–50XX)).

4 Unless otherwise noted, all figures in this paragraph are from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” Table 11, “Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 2015,” available at https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf (last accessed May 5, 2016).

5 BLS News Release, “Employment Situation of Veterans — 2015” (March 22, 2016), USDL–16–0611, Table 4, “Employed persons 18 years and over by occupation, sex, veteran status, and period of service, 2015, annual averages,” available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/vet.pdf (last accessed May 5, 2016).

6 In 2010–2012, 373,300 workers with a disability worked in construction – that was five percent of workers with a disability — compared to 4.8 percent of workers without a disability. The percentage of construction workers who had a disability — 5.5 percent — was slightly higher than the percentage of all workers who had a disability — 5.3 percent. DOL, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Economic Picture of the Disability Community Project, Data Sets Table 4 (“Disability and Major Occupation, 2010–2012 period”), available at https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/DisabilityEmploymentStatistics.htm (last accessed July 25, 2016).

7See, e.g., Chicago Regional Council Of Carpenters v. Pepper Construction Co., 32 F. Supp. 3d 918 (N.D. Ill. 2014) (denying construction company’’s motion to dismiss allegations that failure to hire an otherwise qualified apprentice carpenter because he had diabetes was unlawful discrimination on the basis of disability); Potts v. Centex Homes, 2006 WL 89924 (M.D. Tenn. 2006) (denying construction company’s motion to dismiss disability discrimination case by Field Manager who needed a reasonable accommodation for back, shoulder, and neck injuries). On several occasions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled cases of disability discrimination with employers who fired trades workers with disabilities when they learned the workers had a disability. EEOC Press Release, “St. Louis Construction Company Settles Disability Discrimination Suit with EEOC” (March 3, 2010), available at https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3–3–10.cfm (last accessed July 8, 2016) (settling allegations that A&A Contracting fired one of its permanent construction workers because it regarded him as having a disability due to his history of liver and kidney problems, including cancer); EEOC Press Release, “Glenn O. Hawbaker Will Pay $200,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Lawsuit” (October 5, 2010), available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/10–5–10c.cfm (last accessed July 25, 2016) (settling allegations that company rescinded a job offer to an experienced backhoe operator who had diabetes because of his disability); EEOC Press Release, “Garney Construction and Georgia Power to Pay $49,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Lawsuit” (June 1, 2012), available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/6–1–2012a.cfm (last accessed July 25, 2016) (settling disability–discrimination allegations that company refused to rehire a frontend loader who had medication–controlled epilepsy); EEOC Press Release, “McPhee Electric and Bond Brothers to Pay $120,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit” (May 12, 2015), available at https://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5–12–15.cfm (last accessed July 22, 2016) (settling allegations that companies refused to hire a carpenter because of his disability (dyslexia), despite his 15 years of experience as a carpenter, numerous construction safety training certifications, and clean safety record).

8See, e.g., OFCCP Press Release, “L&M Construction to pay nearly $113,000 to settle major sexual harassment case with US Labor Department” (July 29, 2013), available at https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/ofccp/ofccp20131460 (last accessed July 12, 2016) (finding a hostile working environment that included inappropriate touching, lewd acts, sexual gestures, comments and propositions directed at female employees); Peter Korn, Portland Tribune, “The Worst Job in Oregon (If You’re A Woman)” (June 30, 2016), available at http://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9–news/313143–191195–the–worst–job–in–oregon–if–youre–a–woman (last accessed July 12, 2016)(reporting that woman electrical lineman was sexually assaulted three times by a supervising lineman, with two other linemen present who didn’t help as she fought off the attacker, and injured when a journeyman directed her to move a wire in a way that forced her hands into a conduit); New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health Resource, “Risks Facing Women in Construction” (August 2014), available at http://nycosh.org/wp–content/uploads/2014/09/Women–in–Construction–final–11–8–13–2.pdf (last accessed July 12, 2016) (finding that women in construction are far more likely to be injured by motorists than their male counterparts, as many women on construction sites are given flagger duties, an occupation with a high death rate); EEOC Press Release, “Professional Building Systems of North Carolina To Pay $118,000 to Settle Race Harassment Case” (April 8, 2010), available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4–8–10c.cfm (last accessed July 12, 2016) (settling allegations of racial harassment that involved the display of nooses, references to African American employees as “boy” and the “N–word,” and a picture that depicted the Ku Klux Klan looking down a well at an African American man); EEOC Press Release, “Utah Construction Company Pays $230,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment and Retaliation Suit” (April 16, 2013), available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/4–16–13.cfm (last accessed July 12, 2016) (settling allegations that a construction supervisor regularly referred to African–Americans with a racial slur); EEOC Press Release, “Ceisel Masonry to Pay $500,000 for Harassment of Hispanic Workers” (May 22, 2009), available at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/5–22–09.cfm (last accessed July 12, 2016) (settling allegations that Hispanic workers were regularly subjected to racial epithets and offensive graffiti); Associated Schools of Construction Report, “Safety Issues among Hispanic Construction Workers along the Wasatch Front in Utah” (2012), available at http://ascpro.ascweb.org/chair/paper/CPRT226002012.pdf (last accessed July 12, 2016) (finding that Hispanic construction workers are injured at a higher frequency than other groups because of, inter alia, language barriers and lack of training).

9BLS, “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Construction and Extraction Occupations,” available at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction–and–extraction/home.htm (last accessed May 5, 2016).

10 BLS News Release, “Employment Projections — 2014–24” (December 8, 2015), USDL–15–2327, Table 3, “Industries with the largest wage and salary employment growth and declines,” available at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecopro.pdf (last accessed May 5, 2016).

11 Executive Order 11246 applies to construction contractors and subcontractors working on projects that are directly federally funded (such as General Services Administration–funded federal courthouses) as well as on those that receive federal financial assistance (such as highways or bridges that are funded by federal grants to state Departments of Transportation). Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Reemployment and Assistance Act apply only to construction contractors and subcontractors working on projects that are directly federally funded.

12In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they have inquired about, discussed or disclosed their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.

13 As explained above in note 11, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Reemployment and Assistance Act do not apply to construction contractors and subcontractors working on projects that are federally assisted. For that reason, OFCCP does not facilitate compliance with affirmative–action requirements for individuals with disabilities or protected veterans by contractors on federally assisted MCPs.

14See note 11, above.