Labor Department Expands Construction Trades Program

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently tagged more federally-funded construction projects for participation in the agency’s new Mega Construction Project Program

[Above photo by the Maine DOT]

Launched by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs or OFCCP in March, the program seeks to foster equal opportunity in the construction trades workforce in so-called “mega projects,” which are large federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more – some part of which must be federal funding – and that last more than one year.

Photo by the Colorado DOT

The Mega Construction Project Program brings the public and private sectors together on a select group of mega projects for which OFCCP provides contractors and subcontractors compliance assistance to strengthen recruitment, hiring and employment practices. The assistance focuses on removing barriers to opportunity for underrepresented communities including women, people of color, veterans and individuals with disabilities, DOL noted.

The agency also provides technical assistance on how contractors can foster workplaces free from harassment and discrimination and address ongoing barriers to recruitment and retention. In addition, OFCCP conducts compliance reviews to evaluate contractors’ equal opportunity practices.

For the 12 newly designated megaprojects, OFCCP partnered with the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, General Services Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. These newly designated projects build on OFCCP’s earlier megaproject designations funded by the USDOT and GSA, DOL said. 

 “This compliance assistance from the DOL will help ensure that those who have historically been underrepresented in construction and the trades,” noted USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement. “[That] includes women and people with disabilities [who] are part of the national effort to help build the vital infrastructure we will all need in the coming decades.”

Photo via the Maryland Governor’s Office.

[Editor’s note: Maryland Governor Wes Moore (D) recently joined USDOT’s Buttigieg at Prince George’s Community College to announce funding for a Commercial Driver’s License program.]

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recently sent a letter to USDOT in July outlining how it and state departments of transportation are engaged in similar equity efforts within the infrastructure space at the state level.

“In order to improve safety, mobility, and access for everyone, we are promoting diversity in all AASHTO activities and collaborating with traditional and non-traditional partners to support equity and social justice objectives,” AASHTO noted in its letter.

That includes improving contracting and procurement practices to assist disadvantaged business enterprises or DBEs, focusing efforts on recruitment, promotion, and training so that the state DOTs can “better reflect the communities they serve” while also ensuring establishment of inclusive workplaces.

AASHTO noted in its letter it has formed an Equity Task Force charged with pursuing those goals as well as create a new Transportation Workforce Management Playbook – a publication currently under development – to ensure that equity is a key component of transportation workforce planning and management going forward.

The Task Force will also partner with the AASHTO Committees on Planning, Environment, Civil Rights, and others, as well as external stakeholders, to collect and compile effective public engagement practices in underserved and marginalized communities.

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