Infrastructure Investment Must Create Good Jobs for All

Federal lawmakers can support America’s 21st-century competitiveness by ensuring that any federal infrastructure plan invests in good jobs.

Workers descend from a tower of a San Francisco bridge, August 2013. (Getty/Justin Sullivan)
Workers descend from a tower of a San Francisco bridge, August 2013. (Getty/Justin Sullivan)

See also: Equity-Oriented Workforce Strategies for a Progressive Infrastructure Plan” by Livia Lam

Advancing a large-scale plan to rebuild America’s crumbling roads and bridges is at the top of many federal lawmakers’ 2019 agenda.1 After President Donald Trump’s failed attempt to advance such a bill in 2018, progressive policymakers should move forward with a bold plan to invest in America’s 21st century competitiveness—a goal that will require prioritizing investment in green energy, broadband, and targeted support for struggling communities alongside support for the nation’s existing physical infrastructure.2

Equally important, lawmakers must ensure that any major infrastructure investment also helps secure the nation’s long-term prosperity. This means that the jobs supported by the plan must pay fair wages, provide good benefits and a voice on the job, and offer American workers from all walks of life a pathway to the middle class.3

Over the past century, pro-worker lawmakers have sought to uphold the basic guarantee that government spending will create good jobs. This has been accomplished through a variety of measures—such as prevailing-wage and benefits laws that ensure workers receive fair compensation, as well as protections to prevent discrimination, support equal pay, and ensure that workers are able to exercise their right to form unions.4 Yet it is far from guaranteed that the jobs created through the infrastructure plan will be good ones.

Today, job quality standards are frequently under attack. Republicans in Congress have introduced legislation to repeal or weaken prevailing-wage protections over the past several sessions.5 As one of his first acts in office, President Trump signed legislation that weakened standards to ensure that federal contractors obey existing workplace laws.6 The administration also is establishing a new apprenticeship program for industries outside of construction that will allow sponsors to avoid existing anti-discrimination protections and will likely result in workers having less of a say in how training is conducted.7 Indeed, Trump never committed to ensuring that his own infrastructure plan would support only decent jobs with good pay, benefits, and protections for workers.8

Moreover, existing protections cover less than half of all federal spending.9 While workers on jobs funded through federal contracting dollars enjoy numerous job quality protections, these policies usually do not apply to jobs funded through federal grants, loans, loan guarantees, and tax incentives. In addition, current laws are often too weak to lift workers out of poverty, protect workers attempting to form a union, or otherwise change the behavior of companies that do not respect their workers.10

Without adequate job quality protections, jobs funded through any new infrastructure investments could be of low quality, pay substandard wages, provide too few opportunities for advancement—particularly for women, people of color, and other historically disadvantaged communities—and do little to correct the decadeslong problem of stagnating U.S. wages.

Weak job standards not only harm American workers but also put responsible businesses that pay fair wages and respect employees at a competitive disadvantage. Moreover, research finds that when corporations receiving government contracts pay poverty wages or violate workplace laws, they often deliver poor-quality products to taxpayers and require taxpayers to bear hidden costs through federal and state governments’ provision of services to supplement workers’ incomes, such as Medicaid, nutrition assistance, and refundable tax credits.11

Pro-worker lawmakers must not only fight to ensure that any major infrastructure investments carry existing job quality protections, but they also must use the infrastructure debate to strengthen and expand on these protections and ensure that all workers, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups, are able to participate. Doing so will help raise standards for workers whose jobs are directly funded by the investment and—particularly in a tight labor market such as the one the United States is experiencing today—raise standards for private-sector workers, as companies compete for skilled employees.

In addition, attaching strong job quality standards to the infrastructure investment can help build momentum for federal actions to raise standards for all workers, such as bills to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and eliminate loopholes for agricultural and tipped workers, as well as Americans with disabilities; provide essential benefits such as comprehensive paid family and medical leave and Medicare Extra for All; and support all workers’ right to join a union.

During the last congressional session, Democrats in both chambers expressed a strong commitment to ensuring that the jobs created through an infrastructure plan pay decent wages and benefits, and progressive policymakers are beginning to move in that direction this session.12 For example, in their “Better Deal” agenda, Senate Democrats endorsed protections on all government spending to help ensure that workers who want to form unions are able to do so.13

This issue brief outlines the essential protections that policymakers must adopt to ensure that all jobs created through federal infrastructure spending provide family-supporting wages and benefits, opportunities for advancement, and a voice for workers on the job. These jobs include those funded through federal grants, loans, contracts, and public-private partnerships that include federal participation. Moreover, these standards should apply not only to initial construction work but to ongoing maintenance, service, and operations jobs as well. As is the case with existing protections for the contracted workforce, job quality standards would also flow down to the workforce of subcontractors.

Finally, to ensure that recipients of infrastructure funds comply with these standards, policymakers should include funding for monitoring and enforcement efforts; require recipients to report on compliance through publicly accessible databases; and partner with trusted worker and community organizations to educate workers on their rights and help them feel comfortable coming forward if their rights are violated. In this way, the infrastructure package can help raise standards for workers throughout the economy.

6 essential protections to ensure infrastructure investment creates good jobs

1. Pay nonpoverty wages and provide decent benefits

The Davis-Bacon Act and the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act help ensure that federal spending does not drive down standards in the construction and service sectors by setting required wage and benefit rates for contracted workers at existing market levels. The federal government has regularly acted to extend Davis-Bacon Act prevailing-wage requirements to construction jobs funded through grants, loans, loan guarantees, and even some types of tax credits.14

Yet the wage protections enumerated under the Service Contract Act have never been extended beyond direct federal contracting in the more than 50 years since the law was enacted.15 Even when Davis-Bacon standards apply to construction work, ongoing service and maintenance work associated with a project, for example, may not be covered.16

Moreover, prevailing-wage rates for a range of jobs across the country fall below the living wage needed to sustain a family. For example, the prevailing-wage and benefit rate for a laborer in Atlanta is just 45 percent of the area’s living wage for an adult with one child, while the prevailing-wage and benefit rate for a guard—for example, a building security officer—in Milwaukee is equivalent to only 74 percent of the area’s living wage.17

In order to help combat poor pay and working conditions among federal contractors, former President Barack Obama signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for contracted workers to $10.10 per hour and index it to inflation in 2014; in 2015, he signed an executive order that required contractors to provide workers at least seven days of paid sick leave so that they could care for themselves or family members, including chosen family members.18 Raising the contractor minimum wage to $15 per hour would ensure that hard work pays and would build on Obama’s actions.

Companies receiving taxpayer support should be required to pay the area’s prevailing wage or a $15 minimum wage, whichever is higher. In addition, companies, as noted above, should be required to comply with the health and welfare benefits required by existing prevailing-wage laws and provide at least seven days of paid sick leave.

Finally, prevailing-wage calculations should be strengthened to foster strong industry standards. For example, New York; Maryland; and Jersey City, New Jersey, have adopted policies to help ensure that collectively bargained wage rates are also the prevailing-wage rates.19 Federal policymakers should follow the leads of these locations by setting the wage that prevails under both Davis-Bacon and the Service Contract Act to the wage paid to 30 percent of workers in an industry in a locality.20

2. Prevent discrimination and enforce equal pay protections

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 to prevent discrimination among contractors on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin.21 The order applied not only to the positions directly funded through federal spending but also to all employees of companies with federal contracts regardless of whether their work was funded through procurement spending.

The order also allowed for the creation of an enforcement body, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), whose mission was later expanded to include enforcing protections for workers and preventing discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and status as a protected veteran.22 This includes protections against sexual harassment, pay discrimination, and family caregiving discrimination, as well as requirements to provide accommodation to workers with disabilities and pregnant workers. Research shows that through its power to withhold future contracts and require affirmative action plans, the OFCCP significantly increased equal opportunity for women and people of color in companies receiving federal contracts.23

More recently, the Obama administration combated pay discrimination among federal contractors by boosting pay transparency and prohibiting retaliation when workers discuss pay. It also undertook efforts to surface pay disparities by collecting more government data from large companies on worker pay by race, gender, and ethnicity.24

However, the OFCCP’s jurisdiction extends only to federal contractors. Companies receiving grants, loans, or loan guarantees are not subject to the agency’s oversight. Moreover, the Trump administration halted corporate reporting requirements on pay data and has weakened protections for LGBTQ workers.25 In 2017, Trump granted former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sweeping authority to enact religious exemptions from nondiscrimination protections for federal contractors.26

All companies receiving federal infrastructure funds should be subject to OFCCP enforcement authority, as well as Obama-era pay transparency requirements, in order to ensure that they do not discriminate or retaliate against employees or applicants because of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, disability, or veteran status. In order to support enforcement efforts, the infrastructure investment must allocate funding to the OFCCP sufficient to support targeted investigations into industries and occupations with high levels of disparities, as well as reviews of employee movement from entry- and mid-level jobs into higher-earning positions.27 Finally, all companies receiving federal support should be required to report on the pay and demographic data of their workforces.

3. Expand access to apprenticeship and paid training

Registered Apprenticeships are a proven training model that combines structured classroom instruction with paid on-the-job training. Employers in the building and construction industry have long used Registered Apprenticeships to provide a steady pipeline of highly qualified workers who meet federal and state standards for safety and training. For workers, earning an industry-issued, nationally recognized credential through apprenticeship leads not only to high-paying jobs but also to opportunities for career advancement. Yet for too long, women, people of color, and workers with disabilities were excluded from these jobs.

While community organizations, labor organizations, training intermediaries, and the public workforce system have made significant progress in recent decades to expand access to construction trades, more can be done to expand the scope of high-quality apprenticeship programs and increase access and pay for historically disadvantaged communities.28 For example, Washington state and Alaska have both adopted policies to ensure that 15 percent of the work on publicly supported construction projects is performed by apprentices.29

In addition, cities and states are increasingly adopting “targeted hire” standards and pre-apprenticeship programs to ensure that local residents and historically disadvantaged residents such as women, people of color, low-income residents, and residents with past involvement with the criminal justice system are able to obtain the construction and permanent jobs created with the support of public expenditures.30 San Francisco, for example, has significantly expanded access to publicly supported construction projects by mandating that local residents complete 30 percent of a project’s total work hours and 50 percent of its apprenticeship hours as well as by partnering with industry, labor, and community nonprofits to create an 18-week pre-apprenticeship program.31

And the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority adopted a policy in 2012 that requires that 20 percent of employees on construction projects be apprentices and that 10 percent be from disadvantaged communities.32

However, President Trump is undermining the power of these sorts of programs to raise standards for working people. In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it was ending a pilot program at the U.S. Department of Transportation that allowed communities to establish local hire preferences.33 Also, the administration is establishing a parallel apprenticeship system that will allow third-party industry groups outside of construction to develop apprenticeship programs without having to meet existing federal Registered Apprenticeship standards.34

Lawmakers should require that 15 percent or more of labor hours on large-scale infrastructure projects be performed by apprentices participating in programs that meet federal and state Registered Apprenticeship standards. They should also require these projects to adopt a targeted-hire initiative that establishes mandatory hiring requirements and partners with local community groups to ensure that affected groups—such as local residents, women, people of color, workers with disabilities, and other disadvantaged groups—are able to access these jobs.

In industries and regions with few established Registered Apprenticeship programs or where established apprenticeship programs have little capacity to fulfill necessary training, the bill should ensure partnership with the public workforce system and provide funding to labor-management intermediaries to develop apprenticeship or paid work-based learning programs. These new projects would assess the training needs of the sector; customize the training and apprenticeships to fit local needs and be accessible; and cultivate partners to help provide training and recruit participation among women, people of color, and other disadvantaged communities.

4. Respect workers’ rights to join a union

President Obama signed several executive orders to support workers’ bargaining rights. These orders took actions requiring contract recipients to post notices informing employees of their right to bargain collectively; requiring successor service contractors to provide a right of first refusal to workers employed on the previous contract; encouraging government agencies to use project labor agreements on large construction projects; and preventing companies from using federal funds to fight the efforts of workers to form a union.35 These protections should apply broadly to all companies receiving support through the federal infrastructure package.

Yet it is still far too easy for anti-union corporations to fight workers’ efforts to come together in unions and negotiate for better pay and benefits. Although existing government policies prohibit contractors from using federal funds to fight workers’ efforts to form unions, they are free to use their own funds to do so.

Employers often engage in sophisticated campaigns to prevent workers from forming unions, which can include forcing workers to attend anti-union meetings—including one-on-one conversations with supervisors—and pressuring workers to reveal their private preferences for the union.36 When anti-union employers break the law, penalties are weak and insufficient. Workers are fired in one-quarter to one-third of union organizing campaigns, but they can at best hope to recover their lost wages and get reinstated in their jobs, often after years of legal battles.37

To ensure that workers who want to form a union have a fair shot at doing so, companies should be prohibited from attempting to persuade workers employed on taxpayer-supported work to exercise or not exercise the right to organize a union. And when a majority of workers demonstrate their support for a union, corporations should be required to bargain with them.

5. Comply with existing workplace laws

Numerous government reports have found that government contractors face few consequences when they break federal workplace laws designed to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed, are safe on the job, and do not face discrimination. A 2017 report from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) found that two-thirds of the government’s 100 largest contractors have been caught breaking workplace wage and safety laws.38 Previous reports by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office and a Senate committee have found similar results. For example, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions found that the worst violators of workplace laws receive $81 billion in federal contracts in a single year.39

Although President Obama took executive action to ensure that companies comply with health and safety standards, wage laws, and antidiscrimination protections before they receive federal contracts, President Trump signed legislation to roll back these protections before they were fully implemented.40

Lawmakers in Congress should require companies that apply for federal infrastructure funds to report on their record of compliance with workplace laws. If they have a poor track record, lawmakers should require them to come into compliance before they are able to receive any federal funding.

6. Create jobs in the United States

Laws designed to ensure that the federal government purchases American-made products and that federally supported infrastructure projects use American-made inputs are too often poorly enforced and cover a limited number of spending programs as well as a limited number of end products.41 Looking only at contracting, for example, the U.S. government opens a far greater share of its procurement market to foreign goods than do its largest foreign trade partners covered under the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement.42

In 2017, President Trump called for a review of current agency procedures governing Buy American and Buy America policies.43 He subsequently issued an executive order to encourage stronger enforcement of existing Buy America laws covering infrastructure projects such as roadways, broadband and pipelines.44 These aspirational actions have highlighted the glaring deficiencies in domestic content laws, but they fall short by not ensuring any tangible change.

All assistance to states and other recipients of infrastructure funds should be covered by strong domestic content standards.45 To strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of existing standards, these efforts must ensure that all federal agencies provide clear domestic content definitions and guarantee transparent and thorough audit processes.46

Congress should make these issues a priority as it advances an infrastructure package. The federal government should establish high thresholds for granting waivers of domestic content preferences; ensure that low-bid contracting procedures do not undercut the ability to source domestically produced content; expand the application of Buy American and Buy America preferences to other types of federal spending programs and federal assistance programs identified as not being covered, such as aid programs for waterworks infrastructure; and, when practicable, add key industries to protected trade lists.47

Job-quality standards improve conditions for workers, taxpayers, and business owners

By implementing the reforms listed above, policymakers would significantly raise standards for working people. Studies of wage standards, for example, find that these protections raise wages, lower poverty rates, and reduce inequality in affected industries.48

For example, one study found that construction workers in states with strong or average prevailing-wage laws made nearly $12,000 more per year, on average, than construction workers in states with weak or no prevailing-wage laws.49 In addition, a recent report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute found that participation in Registered Apprenticeship programs results in an average annual earnings gain of more than $3,400 and a lifetime earnings gain of nearly $120,000.50

Similarly, efforts to reduce workplace discrimination through federal procurement programs have been shown to be successful. After President Johnson adopted affirmative action requirements for federal contractors, studies show that demand for African Americans and women increased significantly in contractor establishments compared with noncontractor establishments.51

And by ensuring that workers who want to form a union are able to do so, lawmakers can support a thriving American middle class, since research shows that unions reduce wage inequality and increase economic mobility.52 For example, children who grow up in areas with a high union density typically rank relatively higher in income distribution as adults than those from areas with few union members.53

These sorts of job standards can also provide better results for businesses that respect their workers. For example, research finds that paid sick leave boosts economic efficiency, as workers are more likely to stay home when sick, thereby preventing the spread of illness, and to seek preventive care.54 Also, after San Francisco International Airport adopted contracting standards, annual turnover among security screeners fell from nearly 95 percent to 19 percent—saving employers thousands of dollars per employee per year in restaffing costs.55

Finally, job quality standards can also help ensure that taxpayers receive good value for their investment. As discussed above, job quality standards are key to ensuring that taxpayers do not bear the hidden cost of providing services to supplement contract workers’ incomes. A study reviewing the effects of prevailing-wage laws found that the 16.4 percent of construction workers in states with no or weak prevailing-wage laws receive the Earned Income Tax Credit, compared with 11.3 percent of construction workers in states with average or strong prevailing-wage laws.56

Moreover, research finds that contractors that violate workplace laws often deliver poor quality to taxpayers. A report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund found that a quarter of companies that committed the worst violations and later received federal contracts had significant performance issues. Those problems “ranged from contractors submitting fraudulent billing statements to the federal government; to cost overruns, performance problems, and schedule delays during the development of major weapons systems that cost taxpayers billions of dollars; to contractors falsifying firearms safety test results for federal courthouse security guards; to an oil rig explosion that spilled millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.”57

Higher job quality standards also encourage more companies to bid for contracts, since they no longer have to compete against low-road firms willing to pay poverty wages. After Maryland implemented a contractor living standard, the average number of bids for contracts in the state increased 27 percent, and approximately half of contracting companies interviewed by the state said that the new living wage standard “encourage[d] them to bid on State contracts because it levels the playing field.”58


A major infrastructure investment holds the promise to jump-start American investment in key sectors, such as clean energy, transit, and broadband. Yet such a plan could spur a massive investment in human infrastructure. By attaching robust quality standards to all jobs created by the plan, lawmakers can help bolster high-wage job growth throughout the economy and offer American workers from all walks of life a pathway to the middle class.

Karla Walter is the director of Employment Policy at the Center for American Progress.


  1. See, for example, David Shepardson, “Democrats to Push for Big Infrastructure Bill with ‘Real Money’ in 2019,” Reuters, November 7, 2018, available at; Kayla Tausche, “White House games out potential new Trump infrastructure plan,” CNBC, January 18, 2019, available at
  2. Kevin DeGood and others, “Building Progressive Infrastructure: How Infrastructure Can Create Jobs, Strengthen Communities, and Tackle the Climate Crisis” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2019), available at; Donald F. Kettl, “Trump’s Failed Infrastructure Plan Is a Wasted Opportunity,” Governing, October 2018, available at; Livia Lam, “Equity-Oriented Workforce Strategies for a Progressive Infrastructure Plan” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2019), available at
  3. For a more detailed analysis of how the government can reach these goals, see Karla Walter, “Ensuring Government Spending Creates Decent Jobs” (Washington: Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2018), available at
  4. William G. Whittaker, “Federal Contract Labor Standards Statutes: An Overview” (Washington: Congressional Research Service, 2005), available at
  5. Davis-Bacon Repeal Act, S. 244, 115 Cong., 1 sess. (January 30, 2017), available at; Responsibility in Federal Contracting Act, H. Rept. 1042, 115 Cong., 1 sess. (February 14, 2017), available at
  6. Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, H.J. Res. 37, 115 Cong., 1 sess. (January 30, 2017), available at
  7. Ibid.; Jaclyn Diaz, “Trump Apprenticeship Program: Some Answers, Many Questions,” Bloomberg Law, December 19, 2018, available at
  8. While Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao noted at a June 8, 2017, hearing, “I think … the administration’s proposal is to include Davis-Bacon,” the administration did not release an official commitment to do so, or clear commitments to attach any other job standards to the funding. Also, it is unclear whether the administration intended for these protections to apply to public-private partnerships. See Ranking Member Sam Graves, “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Federal Aviation Administration Authorization,” YouTube, June 8, 2017, available at
  9. Job quality standards are frequently attached to funds awarded through the federal contracting system. Yet the federal government funds a massive workforce through other types of spending vehicles, including grants, loans, loan guarantees, and even tax incentives—jobs that are largely free from any sort of government protections. In fiscal year 2018 alone, the federal government awarded about $544 billion on federal contracts, but it spent more than $755 billion on grants and awarded $5.5 billion in direct loans. See USA Spending, “Advanced Search,” available at (last accessed February 2019).
  10. For example, several reports have found that corporations with the worst records of workplace law violations often continue to receive federal contracts. See Office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, “Breach of Contract: How Federal Contractors Fail American Workers on the Taxpayer’s Dime” (Washington: U.S. Senate, 2017), available at; Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, “Acting Responsibly? Federal Contractors Frequently Put Workers’ Lives and Livelihoods at Risk” (Washington: 2013), available at; U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Assessments and Citations of Federal Labor Law by Selected Federal Contractors” (Washington: 2010), available at
  11. Karla Walter and David Madland, “At Our Expense” (Washington: Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2013), available at; Frank Manzo IV and LeNee Carroll, “Self-Sufficient Construction Workers: Why Prevailing Wage Laws are the Best Deal for Taxpayers” (La Grange, IL: Midwest Economic Policy Institute and Indianapolis: Building Strong Communities, 2014), available at
  12. Senate Democrats, “A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure: Creating Over 15 million New Jobs,” available at (last accessed February 2019); House Democrats, “For the People,” available at (last accessed February 2019); Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal, H.R. 109, 116th Cong. 1st sess. (February 7, 2019).
  13. Senate Democrats, “A Better Deal: Give Workers the Freedom to Negotiate a Better Deal” (Washington: 2017), available at
  14. U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, “What Are the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts?”, available at (last accessed January 2019).
  15. Walter, “Ensuring Government Spending Creates Decent Jobs.”
  16. Ibid.
  17. Living wage data are from Amy K Glassmeier, “Living Wage Calculator,” available at (last accessed February 2019). The prevailing wage for selected occupations under the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act are from, “Home,” available at (last accessed February 2019). Note that Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act wage calculations include several pay rates for the job categories listed. The author used “Laborer: Common or General” and “Guard I” as a proxy for entry-level positions in these job categories. The Davis-Bacon Act wage rates are those applicable to highway construction.
  18. Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13658: Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors,” Federal Register 79 (2014): 9851–9854, available at; Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13706: Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors,” Federal Register 80 (2015): 54697–54700, available at The contractor minimum wage is now $10.60 per hour due to inflationary increases. See U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, “Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors, Notice of Rate Change in Effect as of January 1, 2019,” Federal Register 83 (2018): 44906–44909, available at
  19. New York Labor Law § 220 (2016), available at; Code of Maryland Regulations (2017), available at; Jersey City, New Jersey § 3-76 (2016), available at For more on these standards, see David Madland and Alex Rowell, “How State and Local Governments Can Strengthen Worker Power and Raise Wages” (Washington: Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2017), available at
  20. Walter, “Ensuring Government Spending Creates Decent Jobs.”
  21. National Archives: Federal Register, “Executive Order no. 11246–Equal employment opportunity,” available at (last accessed February 2019).
  22. U.S. Department of Labor, “About OFCCP,” available at (last accessed February 2019); Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13672: Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity,” Federal Register 79 (2014): 42971–42972, available at
  23. Orley Ashenfelter and James J. Heckman, “Measuring the Effect of an Anti-Discrimination Program.” In Orley Ashenfelter and James Blum, eds., “Evaluating the Labor-Market Effects of Social Programs” (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1974), available at; Jonathan Leonard, “The Impact of Affirmative Action on Employment” (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1984), available at
  24. Obama Office of the Press Secretary, “Executive Order — Non-Retaliation for Disclosure of Compensation Information,” Press release, April 8, 2014, available at; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Agency Information Collection Activities; Notice of Submission for OMB Review, Final Comment Request: Revision of the Employer Information Report (EEO–1),” Federal Register 81 (135) (2016): 45479–45496, available at; Jocelyn Frye, “Public Input into the Proposed Revisions to the EEO-1 Report: Written Testimony of Jocelyn C. Frye, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress,” March 16, 2016, available at
  25. Jocelyn Frye, “Myths vs. Reality: Why Pay Data and the EEO-1 Form Matter,” Center for American Progress, September 7, 2017, available at
  26. The White House, “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” May 4, 2017, available at
  27. Jocelyn Frye, “Next Steps for Progress on Equal Pay” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2016), available at
  28. Angela Hanks, Annie McGrew, and Daniella Zessoules, “The Apprenticeship Wage and Participation Gap” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2018), available at
  29. Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, “Apprenticeship Utilization Fact Sheet” (2008), available at; Office of Gov. Bill Walker, “Administrative Order No. 278,” November 10, 2015, available at
  30. Kathleen Mulligan Hansel, “Making Development Work for Local Residents: Local Hire Programs and Implementation Strategies That Serve Low-Income Communities” (Oakland, CA: Partnership for Working Families, 2008), available at
  31. San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, “San Francisco Local Hiring Policy for Construction: 2017/2018 Report” (San Francisco: 2018), available at; San Francisco Ordinance No. 84-17 (2017), available at
  32. Los Angeles Metro, “Project Labor Agreement & Construction Careers Policy,” available at (last accessed February 2019); Working Partnerships USA, “Building Opportunity: Investing in Local and Disadvantaged Residents with Community Workforce Agreements” (San Jose, CA: 2017), available at
  33. PolicyLink, “Trump Administration Eliminates Local Hire Pilot before It Can Demonstrate Results,” August 30, 2017, available at
  34. For example, existing equal employment opportunity regulations to ensure women, workers of color, and workers with disabilities are able to access apprenticeships do not apply to Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAPs). See Diaz, “Trump Apprenticeship Program: Some Answers, Many Questions.”
  35. Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13496: Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws,” Federal Register 74 (2009): 6107–6111, available at; Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13495: Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts,” Federal Register 74 (2009): 6103–6106, available at; Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13502: Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects,” Federal Register 74 (2009): 6985–6987, available at; Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13494: Economy in Government Contracting,” Federal Register 74 (2009): 6099–6102, available at Note that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney issued a memorandum on June 15, 2017, rescinding requirements that agencies submit quarterly reports to the Office of Management and Budget identifying projects potentially eligible for a project labor agreement and describing whether such an agreement was adopted. See Mick Mulvaney, “Memorandum for Head of Executive Departments and Agencies: Reducing Burden for Federal Agencies by Rescinding and Modifying OMB Memoranda,” Office of Management and Budget, June 15, 2017, available at
  36. David Madland, Alex Rowell, and Gordon Lafer, “Anti-Democratic Attacks on Unions Hurt Working Americans” (Washington: Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2017), available at
  37. John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer, “Dropping the Ax: Illegal Firings During Union Election Campaigns, 1951-2007,” (Washington: Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2009), available at; Kate Bronfenbrenner, “No Holds Barred: The Intensification of Employer Opposition to Organizing” (Washington: Economic Policy Institute, 2009), available at
  38. Office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, “Breach of Contract.”
  39. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, “Acting Responsibly?”; U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Assessments and Citations of Federal Labor Law by Selected Federal Contractors.”
  40. Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
  41. Michaela Platzer and William Mallett, “Effects of Buy America on Transportation Infrastructure and U.S. Manufacturing: Policy Options” (Washington: Congressional Research Service, 2017), available at; Robert Pollin, James Heintz, and Jeannette Wicks-Lim, “Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing Through Public Procurement Policies” (Amherst, MA: Political Economy Research Institute, 2015), available at; U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Government Procurement: United States Reported Opening More Opportunities to Foreign Firms Than Other Countries, but Better Data Are Needed” (Washington: 2017), available at
  42. U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Government Procurement.”
  43. Executive Office of the President, “Executive Order 13788: Buy American and Hire American,” Federal Register 82 (2017): 18837–18839, available at
  44. The White House, “Executive Order on Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects,” January 31, 2019, available at
  45. See, for example, A bill to ensure that certain Federal public works and infrastructure projects use materials produced in the United States, and for other purposes, S. 181, 115 Cong., 1 sess. (January 20, 2017), available at
  46. Pollin, Heintz, and Wicks-Lim, “Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing Through Public Procurement Policies.” For example, the Federal Transit Administration released guidance in January 2017 on pre-award and post-delivery audits for rolling stock procurements that provides clearer definitions of how to calculate domestic content. Other federal agencies enforcing domestic content standards should create the same kind of guidance documents. See Federal Transit Administration, “Conducting Pre-Award and Post-Delivery Audits for Rolling Stock Procurements” (U.S. Department of Transportation, 2017), available at
  47. For example, Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R) sponsored legislation last session to help ensure that all federal infrastructure projects are covered by strong domestic content standards and to extend coverage to additional American-made commodity construction materials, such as cement, lumber, plastics, glass, and nonferrous metals. Also, while the Senate included provisions to permanently extend Buy America protections to federally supported water infrastructure projects in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, in House-Senate negotiations, the coverage was limited to five years. See A bill to ensure that certain Federal public works and infrastructure projects use materials produced in the United States, and for other purposes; America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, S. 3021, 115 Cong., 2 sess. (June 7, 2018), available at; Pollin, Heintz, and Wicks-Lim, “Strengthening U.S. Manufacturing Through Public Procurement Policies”; Platzer and Mallett; “Effects of Buy America on Transportation Infrastructure and U.S. Manufacturing.”
  48. Frank Manzo IV, “Prevailing Wage Laws, Contractor Profits, and the Economic Pie” (La Grange, IL: Illinois Economic Policy Institute, 2015), available at; Frank Manzo IV and Robert Bruno, “Which Labor Market Institutions Reduce Income Inequality?” (La Grange, IL: Illinois Economic Policy Institute, 2014), available at; Frank Manzo IV, Robert Bruno, and Kevin Duncan, “The Impact of Prevailing Wage Laws on Military Veterans” (La Grange, IL: Illinois Economic Policy Institute, 2016), available at
  49. Frank Manzo IV, Alex Lantsberg, and Kevin Duncan, “The Economic, Fiscal, and Social Impacts of State Prevailing Wage Laws: Choosing Between the High Road and the Low Road in the Construction Industry” (La Grange, IL: Illinois Economic Policy Institute, 2016), available at
  50. Robert Bruno and Frank Manzo IV, “The Impact of Apprenticeship Programs in Illinois: An Analysis of Economic and Social Effects” (La Grange, IL: Illinois Economic Policy Institute, 2016), available at
  51. Jonathan S. Leonard, “The Impact of Affirmative Action on Employment” (Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1984), available at
  52. Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld, “Unions, Norms, and the Rise in U.S. Wage Inequality,” The American Sociological Review 76 (4) (2011): 513–537.
  53. Richard Freeman and others, “Bargaining for the American Dream” (Washington: Center for American Progress, 2015), available at
  54. Claudia Calderon Machicado, “The Business Case for Paid Leave and Paid Sick Days,” Center for American Progress, April 17, 2014, available at; National Partnership for Women & Families, “Paid Sick Days Lead to Cost Savings for All” (Washington: 2015), available at
  55. Michael Reich, Peter Hall, and Ken Jacobs, “Living Wages and Economic Performance: The San Francisco Airport Model” (Berkeley, CA: University of California, Berkeley, 2003), available at
  56. Lameck Onsarigo and others, “The Economic, Fiscal, and Social Effects of Ohio’s Prevailing Wage Law” (Kent, OH: Affiliated Construction Trades of Ohio, 2017), available at
  57. Walter and Madland, “At Our Expense.”
  58. Maryland Department of Legislative Services, “Impact of the Maryland Living Wage” (Annapolis, MD: 2008), available at

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Karla Walter

Senior Fellow, Inclusive Economy