Affirmative Action in Ohio

I got a prospectus recently asking for bids to operate a marina facility in Toledo, Ohio.  Typically, when privatizing a recreation facility, the government issues a contract that is essentially a lease -- they lease the facility to a private company who runs it for profit.  Companies compete for the lease by bidding the rent they will pay for the lease, the winning company being a combination of the best qualified and the one offering the highest lease payments.

This prospectus is very similar.  However, in the bid I noticed a collection of requirements called "affirmative action compliance" that were almost as thick as the description of the facility and the sample lease terms.  In the routine course of operating such a lease, from time to time a private company must do maintenance and construction work on the facility.  For example, marina docks are nearly constantly under re-construction, in a process similar to painting the Golden Gate Bridge (more rebuilding work is presumably required in Ohio when the lakes and rivers catch on fire). 

The state of Ohio seems extraordinarily concerned about the racial makeup of any workers who might do construction on the docks in the course of the marina's operation.  In fact, in this prospectus they have quotas on minority hiring -- you need to have at least 9% minorities and 6.9% female work hours in any construction project you perform.  But it is even more detailed than that.  Because these quotas apply as well to EVERY INDIVIDUAL TRADE.  They list the following trades:

Asbestos workers, boilermakers, bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, elevator constructors, glaziers, ironworkers, lathers, operating engineers, painters, plasterers, plumbers & pipefitters, roofers, sheet metal workers, other trades

Not only does the job have to have at least 9% minority hours, but each and every category listed has to have 9% minority hours.   So, overall, you could have 50% of your work force be minorities, but if the folks who constructed your elevator were all white, you fail the test.

*CLUNK*  That is the sound of the prospectus hitting the circular file. 

One Comment

  1. mostly cajun:

    "I'm from the government. I'm here to help!"

    You undoubtedly have experience in trying to find qualified minority applicants in many skill areas. it's next to impossible to meet the "it's not a quota, but you better follow it" guidelines when you get into technical fields like engineering. It's not a matter of there not being any, but the few there are are riding a seller's market, where because of their scarcity, they can command salaries greater than non-minorities of equal or better qualifications.

    It's a crazy situation, and the inmates run the asylum. The social engineers who make these rules do not see the fact that simply giving somebody a title does not confer upon them useful skills, and that in small workgroups, one or two ineffective members can destroy any hope of sucessful project completion.

    Somehow business muddles on, but ever year it gets worse...