Boston withholds payments to contractor on a park project for failing to hire enough city residents, minorities

The Dorchester Reporter gets the scoop on the payment block involving a New Hampshire company rehabbing a Dorchester park.

The 1983 ordinance that established the Boston Residents Job Policy states the any construction project funded in whole or part by city or federal funds, or on which the city has been a signatory on, shall comply by employing 50 percent Boston residents, 25 percent minorities, and 10 percent females.



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      I wonder if this ordinance would stand up in court. Courts have taken a very dim view on these type of quota requirements.


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      My understanding is that this is why the law is a waste - it's basically unenforceable. I'm surprised they've even gotten away with this but I'm guessing based on the facts in the story it's more about politics than legality. The guy will make some token adjustments and get paid and the politicians will wave a victory flag and take a lap.


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      "I immediately saw that there was something wrong. Every time I looked it was white males and the license plates were always from somewhere else,” said Loesch.

      He didn't see enough of the right "type" of people. He didn't say if they were doing a good job or not.

      Now I have too look at a half finished park across the street from my house.

      No kidding

      Who did they expect to show up when they hired a contractor from New Hampshire?


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      I think the mensa candidates you're looking for are at City Hall - this wasn't a State thing. And the issue like you said initially, is contracting local. The color of the skin of the workers is a function of how many people of color happen to live near the job site, which in Codman Square is substantial. The real issue is the out of state plates. Paving does not require a skillset that you could not find in the neighborhood. Of course they could have hired a bunch of white guys who live in West Roxbury or Dorchester for that matter and not run afoul of the City's requirement, which I don't think gets down to the level of hiring someone next door to the job site. Seems reasonable to me -- you've got local employment issues that the City tries to help out with in their services and whatnot, so why doesn't the City just hire these folks when it has jobs that they could do?

      How does a contractor prove

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      How does a contractor prove that an employee is a minority? It's not like your race is listed on your driver's license.

      Managing these projects is a PITA

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      It may have changed, but every week you had to fill out forms of all staffing hours and people are asked to self-identify as X race.

      Minority hours were never an issue. You try finding Union women electricians or plumbers - that's hard. We actually had a black, female city resident who called herself "the trifecta".

      It was such a headache to manage this process and I don't feel like it was helpful to anyone. There must be a better way to get people to build and hire local.

      This is still the process...

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      This is still the process. I helped manage a big PRIVATE vertical construction project downtown a couple years ago. The general contractor and his subs had to submit this each week. I'd check it and forward it to the City. I don't know why our private project had to use this process. Maybe because the BRA was involved?

      BRA? did you say BRA?

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      Not positive - but I think for some projects where you get tax breaks you may need to agree by the residency rules - not sure but I think this may have been a condition for LibMu and their tax breaks - granted - it looks like an old boys country club with jeans and hard hats over there -but I think they may be subject as part of the agreement. Did the project get any breaks/funding from the state/city - even a little?

      Would it be legal to offer

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      Would it be legal to offer more money for female union skilled tradeswomen?

      Yes and no

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      It's generally illegal to overtly offer more money JUST for being able to fill a quota.

      You can offer more money for a skill, like in the human services offering a signing bonus to male employees who are willing to do personal care with male clients in a setting where personal care is only performed by people of the same gender (since doing personal care is a job skill, while being male is not, and it's often hard to find guys who will do things like personal care since they're rightfully afraid of being accused of inappropriate touching etc.)

      In this case, you could probably only overtly offer more money to female tradespeople if, say, they were needed to do work in a treatment program that is only for women and has a women-only environment for a particular clinical reason. Otherwise it would be gender discrimination if the business said "oh, we, uh, just prefer having a woman doing installing our circuit reason."

      You can also probably get away with happening to pay employees of one gender more than the other. Most employers do this and most aren't disciplined for it. It just usually happens to be males who are paid more.

      Perceived race

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      If your racial pressntation is such that you face job discrimination because of it (and before the "racism is dead" people start running their mouths, look up those studies showing that identical resumes with racial-minority-suggesting names were chosen less often, interview transcripts with photos of racial minorities were rated poorer than identical interviews with photos of white people, etc), then you would qualify.

      And is it really that much to ask that a city that's about half racial minority hire 10% racial minorities when spending tax money?

      And for freak's sake

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      Can we say "racial minorities" when that's what we mean? The policies don't include other minorities like people with disabilities, transgender people, etc.

      Ok, so whose job is it to

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      Ok, so whose job is it to look at someone's racial presentation and decide if it would cause job discrimination?

      I'm not saying racial prejudice doesn't exist. I'm saying once a contract requires counting people by race, it raises a lot of problems.

      Couple of ways

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      In healthcare/human services, it's a bit easier because we often will have listed as a job requirement that the person has to be culturally competent with a certain cultural group that they're working with, so just saying "oh, I'm a member of that group" isn't enough if you haven't really lived and worked in the community and can't demonstrate knowledge of cultural norms, local resources, etc.

      When it's not a direct job requirement but when the aim is just to have a workforce that reflects the community who is hiring it, the practice is usually to have people self-identify. There are ways for an HR person to politely mention that they're surprised at how a person is identifying and inquire a bit about how the person has formed his/her racial identity without being inappropriate and saying "dude, Suldog, you so aren't Black."

      Some places do go by perceived race (usually based on the consensus of the hiring committee), because when people come in to see whether the staff seems to reflect the makeup of the community, that's what the inspector is probably going to do as well.