Getting Americans Back to Work and Good Jobs – Center for American Progress

2. Prevent discrimination and enforce equal pay protections

All workers—no matter their race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or veteran status—should have access to jobs funded through an infrastructure package and should receive fair compensation from their employers. Yet, as discussed above, one of President Trump’s first acts in response to the coronavirus crisis was to announce that the government would grant exemptions and waivers to some anti-discrimination protections that require contractors receiving coronavirus relief funds to take affirmative efforts to hire women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, veterans, and people with disabilities.14 Previously, the administration has granted the attorney general the authority to enact religious exemptions from these protections and halted implementation of corporate reporting requirements; moreover, it has rescinded pay transparency obligations enacted by President Obama to require federal contractors to provide workers with information on how much they are paid.15

Congress should require the administration to restart anti-discrimination reporting and enforcement for all recipients of coronavirus funds. In addition, it should provide funding for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs—which is charged with enforcing these protections—at levels sufficient to support targeted investigations into sectors with significant pay disparities by race, ethnicity, gender, and other factors, as well as reviews of employee movement from entry- and mid-level jobs into higher-earning positions.16 Finally, Congress should require federal contractors to provide workers with information about how much they are paid and affirm requirements mandating that each year, all employers provide the government with compensation data broken down by race and gender.

3. Expand access to apprenticeship and support targeted hire programs

Infrastructure investment that supports registered apprenticeship and paid training programs could help workers obtain high-paying jobs with opportunities for career advancement; ensure that industries are able to build a pipeline of highly qualified workers; and push back on actions by the Trump administration to erode apprenticeship standards and block local hire agreements.17 Moreover, by linking apprenticeships with nationally recognized credentials and targeted hire agreements, Congress can create opportunities for workers who were long excluded from construction jobs.

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