Federal Efforts To Increase Minority Opportunities in Skilled Construction Craft Unions Have Had Little Success

HRD-79-13: Published: Mar 15, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1979.

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An evaluation was conducted on the impact of major federal programs on the representation of minorities in the unionized skilled construction crafts. The term "skilled construction crafts" included asbestos workers, brick masons, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, glaziers, iron workers, lathers, operating engineers, painters, plasterers, plumbers, roofers, and sheetmetal workers. GAO analyzed union apprentice and journeyman membership data and union members' earnings data.

Ineffective enforcement and inadequate monitoring by federal agencies resulted in minorities making little progress from 1972 through 1976 in increasing their representation among journeymen in skilled construction craft unions. This lack of progress occurred primarily because the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have neither actively monitored and enforced their programs nor adequately coordinated their activities. EEOC has made only one self-initiated investigation of a national construction craft union; instead, enforcement actions by EEOC have been directed at complaints against construction unions. Membership data that unions sent to EEOC were inaccurate, incomplete, and not verified. Executive Order 11246 does not give DOL authority over the unions, since they are not a party to the government contract. The Apprenticeship Outreach Program (AOP) contractors and the Job Corps centers had little success in placing minorities in construction apprenticeship programs. The Job Corps centers visited by GAO had not coordinated their construction craft training programs with either the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training or the unions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: EEOC should make self-initiated investigations of skilled construction craft unions, revise its instructions for collecting union membership data, and obtain apprenticeship data from the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. The Office of Management and Budget should direct DOL to discontinue enforcement of Executive Order 11246 for union construction contractors and transfer the resources to the EEOC for use in self-initiated investigations of construction craft unions. The Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training should relate its equal employment opportunity goals to minorities' journeyman representation in unions. Also, the Bureau should study the reasons for the high apprenticeship dropout rate for minority apprentices. DOL should direct Apprenticeship Outreach contractors to monitor the progress of minorities placed in apprenticeship programs; and Job Corps officials to coordinate their construction craft training programs with the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training and construction craft unions.

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