National Taks Force on Tradeswomen's issues

"Build Back Better" with a Diverse Workforce: Equity for Women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in Infrastructure Jobs

July, 2021

As the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation & Infrastructure Committee says, “Modern infrastructure means creating millions of good-paying jobs that rebuild the middle class and make our country more competitive in the global economy.” We need a ready, skilled construction-trades and transportation workforce to fill these jobs – to repair our crumbling roads and bridges, plug transit gaps in unserved and underserved rural and urban communities, build out our broadband systems, improve rail safety, make utilities more resilient to climate change, and invest in safe drinking water infrastructure.

We need a diverse construction-trades workforce to build our economy and our country back better. For one thing, there is a shortage of skilled workers – builders and developers need to recruit from a larger, more diverse talent pool if they are to get the work done. For another, we cannot achieve a full economic recovery if women and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) – populations that have been hardest hit by the pandemic — do not fully participate in the job market at all levels.

We call on Congress and the Biden Administration to ensure that any infrastructure bill contains effective equity measures designed to increase opportunities for women and BIPOC in the construction-trades workforce.

We were very pleased that on July 1, 2021, the House of Representatives passed a surface-transportation bill that requires participation goals and transparency for women and BIPOC on infrastructure projects. We are supportive of the House version as a good down-payment on the kind of equity provisions that are needed to ensure that the economy “builds back better” with a diverse workforce. We think these measures — and more — are needed:

These recommendations are broadly supported by the over 200 organizations and individuals across the country that are listed below. This list includes the Iron Workers International union, , rank-and-file building trades workers, all the major tradeswomen’s organizations, construction companies and leaders in major construction companies, equity researchers, and women’s, civil-rights, and worker-rights groups.

As tradeswomen, organizations that serve tradeswomen, and allies, our experience is that merely encouraging contractors to hire women and BIPOC is insufficient to disrupt the entrenched historic patterns of discrimination in the construction trades. Unless conditions are clearly stated and tied to funding, progress will simply not be made.

For more information, please contact National Taskforce on Tradeswomen’s Issues Co-Chairs Connie Ashbrook (connie.ashbrook@outlook.com) or Leah Rambo (lreambo@local28edfund.org).

NATIONAL TASKFORCE ON TRADESWOMEN’S ISSUES