A Boston commission tasked with enforcing a decades-old city diversity hiring policy issued its first fines Wednesday, penalizing two construction companies a combined $20,700 for failing to submit the number of hours that Boston residents, women and people of color have worked on recent projects.
Wednesday’s vote to sanction the two contractors marks the first time the Boston Employment Commission has fined a construction company for violating the city’s Resident Employment Policy.
“This should be a message to all general contractors that the commission is definitely looking at everything,” Commissioner Darrin Howell said during the special meeting to consider the sanctions. of a situation, then you will be subject to this type of fines”,
The two subcontractors that city commissioners fined are Bridgeline General Construction in Acton and Dykeman Welding and Fabrication in Lawrence.
Company representatives could not be reached for comment, but the general contractor on the project that incurred fines told commissioners that smaller subcontractors often lack the staff to submit labor documentation within the 7-day requirement. from the city.
“A lot of times, there’s a person behind the house, or the homeowner is out in the field working all day and has limited time at the end of the day or energy to use their computer to do some of these things,” said Nathan Peck, President of Kaplan Construction, the prime contractor for a city-funded 43-unit affordable rental housing project in Roxbury.
Commissioners rejected recommendations by André Lima, in the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, to issue penalties and fines against several other contractors that would have totaled more than $700,000, all for failing to meet city deadlines for reporting their work hours. Some of those businesses were owned by minorities or women.
Several commissioners said they avoided penalties in those cases because the contractors actually had strong histories of hiring Bostonians, workers of color and women.
“I’m not in favor of charging someone with red tape when it’s getting results,” Commissioner Travis Watson said.
City employment policy requires that work crews on most major construction projects in the City be made up of 51% Bostonians, 40% people of color, and 12% women, either private or funded by the city. Boston passed the ordinance in 1983 and updated it in 2017 under the direction of Mayor Marty Walsh. GBH News reported in 2020 that the commission had never in its history issued sanctions; In 2021, the commission updated its policies to allow for penalties, but the commission still can’t fine contractors for not meeting those hiring goals. Now you can penalize companies that do not submit their employment information to the city in a timely manner or do not attend corrective meetings.
Still, the two contractors fined by the city had also posted low hiring numbers, in addition to their paperwork lapses.
Bridgeline reported that less than two percent of work hours on the Roxbury project went to Boston residents and none to women, but workers of color logged 99% of subcontractors’ hours.
“It’s like they were brought in from out of town,” said JocCole Burton, the commission’s chair.
For Dykeman, city reports showed that 45% of her hours were logged by workers of color, but none by Boston residents or women.
Both subcontractors can appeal the commission’s fine.