The paradox of prevailing wage

On paper, the Davis-Bacon Act reads like a fantastic tool. And in many respects, it is. It has improved income disparities between white and black workers, facilitated equal pay for equal work, and helped stop wage theft. However, it’s important to understand the history of the Davis-Bacon Act and how it has transitioned from a tool created to bar black workers to one that, however unintentionally, creates severe road-blocks for Boston’s black-owned contractors from working on projects, often right in their backyards.

Obstacles to Boston Residents Jobs Policy compliance - no baselines and the public bid law

The Boston Residents Jobs Policy (BRJP) was established in 1983 to set employment standards for construction projects in Boston. Several articles have been published about the challenges of meeting policy goals. (See: City wrestles with policing its jobs policy, Dorchester Reporter 3/1/12, Construction hiring goals not met in Boston, Boston Globe, 5/18/15, Builders in Boston missing diversity targets for jobs, Boston Globe, 8/28/15, Council Probes Boston jobs policy, Bay State Banner, 10/31/18.) People are missing the two most significant factors contributing to non-compliance: the lack of a baseline for the total number of residents, people of color and women employed in construction in Boston, and Massachusetts public bid law.

Business activists push city to offer more contracts to minority firms

A coalition of activists is ramping up pressure on Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to award more public contracts to women- or minority-owned businesses after the city acknowledged in May that it sent only a tiny amount of its business to those firms.

Boston's Operation Exit Provides Pipeline From Courtrooms To New Careers

Gross was addressing the latest graduating class of Operation Exit, an initiative launched by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s office six years ago. It puts men and women who have been involved in the court system through a three-week introductory course with the building and trades unions. Before acceptance, each student has to receive a referral and pass a police screening to confirm they’re not under any active investigations.

Another source of business

In fiscal 2018 the City of Boston spent more than $664 million on procurement contracts. Under the law, the city has to accept the lowest bid for all contracts over $10,000. However, the winning bidder must also reasonably establish the competence to perform the construction required satisfactorily or provide quality services or goods. Only 1 percent of those contracts were obtained by minorities or women-owned businesses.

Outkast Electrical joins ranks of IBEW Local 103

Outkast Electrical Contractors, a 35-employee, Dorchester-based company, has joined IBEW Local 103. The partnership brings a well-respected, minority-owned business into the Dorchester-based union.

City’s Office of Economic Development competing for funds to boost participation

Through a nationwide accelerator program sponsored by the Citi Foundation and the organization Living Cities, Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office of Economic Development is hoping to ramp up efforts to increase the number of women-owned and minority-owned vendors the city has contracts with.

The City of Boston was recently named a finalist for the City Accelerator, a program that offers financing, collaboration and consulting to a cohort of municipalities aiming to improve economic equity.

On city contracts, Boston only talks the talk on diversity

Embarrassing is the only word to describe the City of Boston’s record for hiring minority or female contractors.

Last week the city, under a new ordinance that requires quarterly reporting on its contracts, divulged that only 1 percent of the $664 million Boston awarded in 2018 for construction and professional goods and services went to businesses owned by people of color or women.

Few city contracts going to minorities

Of more than $664 million that the city of Boston spent on procurement contracts in fiscal year 2018, including construction, services and products, less than 1 percent went to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MBEs and WBEs), according to data released last week by the city’s Office of Economic Development.

Boston awarded $664m in contracts. Less than 1% went to women - and minority-owned businesses

Less than 1 percent of the $664 million Boston awarded last year for contracts for construction and professional goods and services went to minority- or women-owned businesses, according to data released Thursday that paint a dire picture of the city’s quest for more equity in taxpayer-funded contracts.

Shelley Webster helps minority firms grow capacity

Through her consulting firm, In Order Business Development Solutions, local entrepreneur Shelley Webster helps to address economic inequality in Boston by putting minority- and women-owned contractors in front of developers who are building million- and even billion-dollar projects.

Advancing with partners

In the second installment of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development’s Pathways to City Contracting workshop series last week, local business owners learned about creating joint ventures to better leverage their skills.

Attorney Joel Sowalsky of Daily General Council, PLLC explained to the group, which included almost 40 local real estate brokers, consultants, construction managers and other professionals, many hoping to win a contract with the city, that joint ventures are a great way for more than one business to collaborate on a project.

Developers must answer the call for diversity and inclusion

...last year we began asking all parties seeking to develop public land to include a diversity and inclusion plan as part of their proposal...Working together, Boston can become the leader in promoting diversity and inclusion in development.

Expanding opportunities

Ten months into her new role as vice president of diversity, inclusion and community at Suffolk construction company, former state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry led a forum recently at the company’s Roxbury headquarters with Paul Francisco, chief diversity officer at State Street, on hiring practices, retaining diverse talent and fostering an inclusive workplace.

New committee to improve equity in building industry

The Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations held a public hearing last Friday on the establishment of a commission for economic justice within the city’s construction industry.

Building for the future

As a black woman-owned business, growing the company in an industry dominated by men has not been without its challenges, says Blake. But she implemented certain business strategies in order to level the playing field for minorities like her.

Council probes Boston jobs policy

The City Council Committee on Jobs, Wages and Workforce Development, chaired by Councilor Frank Baker, representatives from the Boston Employment Commission (BEC) and other city officials met last week at City Hall to discuss the lack of diversity and economic opportunity for workers of color during the bi-annual review of the Boston Residents Jobs Policy (BRJP).

Shawmut launches scholarship to support women, minority Wentworth students

Shawmut Design and Construction has launched a scholarship program with Wentworth Institute of Technology aimed at combatting gender and racial imbalances in the construction industry by funding a co-op program for women and underrepresented minority students pursuing degrees in construction management and civil engineering.

Boston Wants to Build Inclusion into Its Construction Boom

“There’s big money being invested and big money being made, but it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, being shared equitably by the people of Boston,” says Brian Golden, director of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

New goals for city-owned land

Developers wishing to build on city-owned land will now be required to outline the steps they will take to ensure people of color and women obtain jobs, contracts and an equity stake in the projects they intend to build, under new guidelines released last week by the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

Boston to ask developers about their inclusion of minority and women workers, investors

The Walsh administration plans to start asking real estate developers who want to buy city-owned land how much of their workforce, and investor pool, is made up of women and minorities, and how they would prevent renters from being displaced by their project.

Mass Construction & Management aims to take on larger projects

When Maxime Charles sought to start his own construction management business, he relied on $60,000 he’d saved up while working for other construction firms.


The Seaport's New Omni Hotel Is A Win For Diversity and Inclusion

The Massachusetts Port Authority wove a diversity requirement into the Omni deal which placed value on minority and women-owned firms and equitable partnerships. Language that insured minorities and women were in the center of the action, not sideline participants.

Boston Is In A Building Boom — And Wants More Diverse Construction Workers

Throughout Boston, cranes and steel structures pepper the city's landscape. Boston is in a major building boom. And the city needs construction workers to keep up.

There's also a gross imbalance of women and minorities in this industry. So, training and outreach are a priority.

The Construction Talent Pipeline Gets Expanded At Harvard Business School

Boston’s building boom has zapped the available construction workforce and sent costs skyrocketing. But a student program at Harvard Business School construction sites could finally replenish the shallow labor pool.


State representative files legislation for minority contractors

State Rep. Nick Collins has filed an amendment to the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means budget proposal that would require all state agencies to ensure participation of minority and women-owned businesses in all phases of development projects involving state property.

White-dominated construction unions want more diversity

In an attempt to get more young people of color to apply to its apprenticeship program, IBEW Local 103 advertised on the social media networks Pandora, Instagram, and Snapchat, and targeted the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The union, part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, also splashed ads across neighborhood billboards and aired them during highly rated TV shows among people of color.

Social media campaign attracts women, minorities to construction industry

A local electrician and telecommunication company launched a social media campaign targeted toward women and people of color in an effort to increase diversity in the workforce.

Judge rules Portuguese companies are not minority-owned

A Boston Superior Court ruled recently that Portuguese-owned construction companies receive an illegal and unfair advantage by participating in a state affirmative action program for public construction projects.

Mentor program aims for more diversity in construction industry

Lillia Sakher is the only woman in her class, but there is a Boston program hoping to change that.

IBEW Local 103 and MP Boston recruit record number of people of color and women as apprentice applicants for 2018

An innovative partnership between a leading labor union and a major Boston developer has led a record-breaking number of people of color and women to apply for this year’s apprenticeship class in the electrical workers union. IBEW Local 103 and MP Boston backed the initiative that led to the record-breaking results.

Vying for greater growth

DCCS, a certified Minority Business Enterprise, has worked on projects for clients like Boston College, Northeastern University, Codman Square NDC and Nuestra Comunidad CDC, and one of its biggest projects was a $600,000 contract with Madison Park Village in 2016. DaSilva said he hopes to do more of the larger scale projects.

“It has taken a long time for us to scale. The majority of minority companies tend to not scale,” he said. When asked why not, he responded, “Access to capital. And the stigma we have out here that minority companies are not professional enough or don’t know what they are doing.”

The Construction Talent Pipeline Gets Expanded At Harvard Business School

Boston’s building boom has zapped the available construction workforce and sent costs skyrocketing. But a student program at Harvard Business School construction sites could finally replenish the shallow labor pool.

Boston Vocational High School Program Opens Multiple Doors at Once

Janice Williams is a senior at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Boston. Williams has chosen to study facilities management. On a recent afternoon, about to head into the school’s facilities management shop, she ticked off some of the skills students can learn within that broad category: plumbing, carpentry, painting, drywalling, flooring and green building technology.

Supply Chain Diversity

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has launched a new initiative to encourage large companies and institutions to direct more of their substantial purchasing dollars to local minority-owned enterprises.

Councilors vote to strengthen city’s minority contracting program

The Boston City Council passed an ordinance this month aimed at beefing up the city’s contracting with minority and woman-owned businesses, adding teeth to an existing program.

Linda Dorcena Forry to resign Senate seat, join Suffolk executive team

Forry will be Suffolk’s vice president of diversity, inclusion and community relations for the contractor’s Northeast region. She will be tasked with strengthening Suffolk’s diversity and inclusion platform and developing long-term talent acquisition strategies, Suffolk said in a statement.

Legislating equity in opportunity that will make our money work

Boston’s new Ordinance on Equity in Opportunity for City Contracting aims to harness city spending so that all communities can benefit from and contribute to the prosperity of our city. It works to codify our values, strengthen our policy tools, and measure our progress


A Globe analysis found that for every hour of employment for a black construction worker, a white construction worker got nearly a full day’s work.

building trades in the blood

Gonzalez takes pride in One Way Development’s work and in fostering a diverse workforce. On a mixed-income development in Mattapan, Gonzalez had 98 percent minority participation in workforce and subtrades — not a bad record at a time when developers routinely fail to meet the 25 percent minority participation rate called for in the city’s Boston Resident Jobs policy.

Minorities get slim share of contracts

According to the spokesperson, in fiscal year 2017, the city’s operating budget included $609 million in contracting, of which $2.7 million went to MBEs. That comes to about 0.44 percent. The prior year, FY 2016, 0.45 percent of contracting expenditures went to MBEs, and in FY15, only 0.37 percent.

Then & Now: eastern exec brings fresh perspective to growing minority businesses

...That grew into an enterprise now doing $8 million annually and employing more than 80 people, says Lloyd, who stepped down as CEO three years ago but remains a part owner. His brother took over and Lloyd now runs Eastern Bank’s Foundation for Business Equity, which has dedicated $10 million over three years to grow minority businesses. 

Boston Chamber opens doors

Opportunity director works to advance economic inclusion

From trades to community college, ‘the sky’s the limit’

In a city of more than 272,000 housing units, the renovation of the 87 units in the Wayne at Columbia housing development may seem inconsequential. But elected officials and heads of both city and state agencies came to the ribbon cutting of the newly-renovated, seven-building affordable housing development.

Cruz cuts ribbon on renovated affordable development

In a city of more than 272,000 housing units, the renovation of the 87 units in the Wayne at Columbia housing development may seem inconsequential. But elected officials and heads of both city and state agencies came to the ribbon cutting of the newly-renovated, seven-building affordable housing development.

Dream Development wins city’s Housing Innovation Competition

Dream Development won attention — and the right to develop a city-owned parcel — thanks to its innovative housing design. The newly-formed, black-owned development team beat out nearly a half-dozen competitors for the opportunity to build on 24 Westminster Avenue in Roxbury.


The proposal will create more employment opportunities for Boston residents, persons of color, and women.

Mayor increases construction jobs goals for people of color 

When former City Councilor Chuck Turner pressed for the Boston Residents Jobs Policy in 1981, the plan’s 25 percent goal for hiring of black, Latino and Asian workers on construction jobs was ambitious. Although people of color made up 25 percent of the city’s population, building trades unions were widely seen as resistant to diversifying their ranks. 

Mayor calls on construction firms to hire more minorities, women, residents 

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh is proposing to raise the city’s goals for construction company hiring of residents, minorities, and women.

Mattapan housing renovation a ‘fully inclusive project’

Walsh praised Cruz Companies, the region’s oldest and largest minority-owned construction and real estate development firm, for its work on the project. Of the 238 workers who contributed to the development, 80 percent were persons of color and 65 percent were Boston residents, Walsh said, adding that 72 percent of the contractors were people of color.

Business leaders step up efforts to bring minority-owned firms into the fold

Now after all these years, Baker has reason to hope those old barriers are easier to overcome. The reason for his optimism: two ambitious efforts at Eastern Bank and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce to stimulate minority-owned ventures and diversify the city’s business community


Through the new initiative, Eastern Bank is stepping up with a $10 million growth fund aimed at providing loans to build the capacity of businesses owned by people of color. 

What Operation Exit Has Built    

Today, I’m a union pipefitter. I earn enough to support my son, enough to buy a house. I earn enough to drive my own car and put food on the table and help my mother. I’m building a life that seemed impossible ten years ago, when I was still in prison — and it’s because of Operation Exit. 

“Operation Exit” Graduates Celebrate Advancement into Building Trades     

When he joined Operation Exit, a career preparation program for at-risk young people, Morgan couldn’t quite believe the second chance opening up for him: A three-week training in the building trades, culminating in placement services for union apprenticeships starting at $19-24 per hour. 


Donan Cosme was only 15 when he found himself in the crosshairs of gang life, facing off against a member of a competing gang, guns raised. More than a decade later, these two men would meet again — not as rivals, but as colleagues and fellow apprentices in Boston’s Sprinkler Fitters Local Union 550.

Bolling: building boom must include minoroities, women

As the Bay State’s building boom continues to reshape our city and our commonwealth, I believe that every developer who applies for a permit should be required, or otherwise strictly encouraged, to hire minorities and women — not just to serve as members of their workforce, but to provide expertise as subcontractors, architects, engineers and brokers.

black firms tackle major hotel project

A development expected to become the fourth largest hotel in Boston and the rest of the state is slated for development by a team with significant minority involvement. 

Umass boston construction pact a model for workforce diversity

Critics of project labor agreements typically limit their complaints to issues of cost (“UMass didn’t heed warnings on construction costs,” Opinion, April 12). While cost savings are in dispute, there is solid evidence that PLAs bring many additional economic and social advantages in addition to family-sustaining wages. Diversity among the construction workforce, and the economic opportunities that holds for women and minorities, is one of the most important benefits of PLAs. 

These women build boston and are recruiting more to join them

Nearly 40 years after President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order mandating women hold 6.9% of work hours on construction projects receiving federal funds, the number still hovers between 2% and 3% nationally. 

Boston can be an unwelcoming place to do business. Here's how to change that

Instead of simply mandating a percentage of diversity hires for design and construction, Massport emphasized minority and female ownership among bidders and the partcipation of minority and women-owned firms as their partners. Diversity counted for 25 percent of the evaluation score alongside crical elements such as design, development, and finance. 

An Act relative to equity in public contracting in honor of bruce c. bolling

By Ms. Chang-Diaz, a petition (accompanied by bill, Senate, No. 1684) of Sonia Chang-Diaz, James B. Eldridge, Evandro C. Carvalho, Bud Williams and other members of the General Court for legislation relative to equity in public contracting in honor of Bruce C. Bolling. State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

An Act relative to equity in public contracting in honor of bruce c. bolling

By Mr. Holmes of Boston, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 3372) of Russell E. Holmes and Carlos Gonzalez relative to diversity in public contracting. State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

Construction hiring goals not met in boston

Despite improvements in recent years, construction companies building in Boston are failing to hire the targeted number of women and city residents, according to a Globe analysis of city data.

For the past 35 years, a city ordinance has required construction companies to demonstrate good faith efforts to guarantee that half of all hours worked go to Boston residents, 25 percent to minorities, and 10 percent to women. The goals are to ensure that highly desirable building trade jobs are spread around to reflect the city’s diverse demographics.

Builders in Boston missing diversity targets for jobs

Most developers in Boston failed to meet the city’s goals for hiring Boston residents and women for construction jobs last year. That includes the second-busiest developer, the city itself, according to a Globe review.

City wrestles with policing its jobs policy

Most companies that win contracts for publicly funded building projects in Boston continue to fall well short of city-mandated minimum-hiring thresholds, according to a Reporter analysis of city reports. The Boston Residents Job Policy (BRJP), a city ordinance, is aimed at ensuring diversity – of Boston residents, minority groups, and females – in work being done with public money.

Commentary: Getting people to work, but not work to people

The good news: After years of community advocacy, planning, and pushing, Dorchester neighborhoods now have easy rail access to downtown through the opening of three new stations on the MBTA Fairmount commuter rail line.

The bad news: The MBTA did not abide by local hiring standards for the construction work on the line. A victory for transit equity wrapped in a defeat for Boston’s workers. How did this happen?