October 4, 2021
Via Online Submission
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 2020
Re: Advancing Worker Equity at the U.S. Department of Labor
The Better For All Coalition came together with a shared goal to advance the rights of all workers, by centering the needs of Black and Immigrant workers to improve the working conditions and their accessibility to good union jobs.To really build back better, we need to ensure that all workers' rights are protected, including those that are the most vulnerable workers among us, such as Black workers who face the highest rates of underemployment and unemployment, and immigrant undocumented workers. Unless the Biden-Harris administration and the Department of Labor ensure that Black workers and other under-represented groups of workers have affirmative access to union jobs, especially those created by federal funding, the realization of the vision of Building Back Better will fall short.
We believe that there must be considerations in the upcoming infrastructure bill that include language prioritizing equity and access. Specifically, we call on you to make Executive Order 11246 (EO 11246) truly meaningful in the vast array of industry touched by the infrastructure bill by updating the regional workforce utilization goals using relevant Census data and disaggregating the goal to set a relevant standard for Black workers, women and people of color on federal and federally assisted construction and service contractors. These goals have not been updated since 1978. EO 11246 requires federal and federally assisted contractors to take affirmative action to ensure equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. Given the outdated goals and lack of disaggregated data, however, too many underrepresented workers of color and women workers continue to be marginalized and excluded from good living wage construction jobs.
The Department of Labor has legal authority to issue sub regulatory guidance that updates minority utilization goals and disaggregates them into racial groups. Create a 21st-century floor for workforce representation by providing sub-regulatory guidance that updates and de-aggregates regional workforce utilization goals for Black and other underrepresented populations based on current and appropriate workforce demographic data and other relevant data which covers all federally funded projects.
Updating Executive Order 11246 represents a critical opportunity to set new standards for those who are historically underrepresented in federal contracts that will impact the vast spectrum of industries outlined in the new infrastructure bill. This includes high road industries such as construction, public transit, personal care, roadway infrastructure, clean water infrastructure, utilities, and sustainable energy. Congress needs to act now on this very urgent issue. We believe that changes to EO11246, will help to build equitable career pathways for underrepresented populations with overlapping barriers to employment through apprenticeships and holistic workforce development programs that center equity and address individual skills gaps and systemic deficits that can prevent successful career attainment and upward mobility.
.The main priorities of the coalition include three recommendations for updating EO 11246:
Utilizing the most recent and relevant census data to set workforce equity goals for all federally funded contracts
Disaggregate data that groups all racial categories into one minority goal so that each racial group is individually defined to represent accurate rates of employment
Expand OFCCP funding to ensure rigorous enforcement and monitoring of updated and disaggregated goals including institutionalizing enforcement to include expanded and disaggregated goals as part of the OFCCP Mega-Construction and other anti-discrimination and DEI enforcement programs
Build equitable and intentional workforce development pathways from Black communities into quality jobs in industry sectors receiving federal investments and assistance including rigorous tracking and monitoring of employer and union reporting and staffing requirements needed to address equity within registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeships.
Black workers continue to face significant participation barriers and wage disparities in the U.S. economy and are sorely underrepresented in high-road industry sectors.
We stand ready to partner with you in this endeavor to affirm the principles of an equitable recovery for vulnerable Black and immigrant workers across the nation. For more information, citations, and analysis on the issues, please refer to the attached fact sheet. We thank you for this opportunity to express our recommendations on advancing workforce equity and look forward to seeing how the Department of Labor will continue to expand equal opportunity for all workers. Our point of contact is Elda Solomon from Unemployed Workers United/ Southern California Black Worker Hub for Regional Organizing at email@example.com.