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(Un)harnessing civil rights

BERTHA LEWIS, President of the Black Institute | 10/31/2013, 4:33 p.m.
It looks like the Civil Rights Movement can welcome a new set of activists into the fold
Bertha Lewis

Let’s cut to brass tacks. The jokers in the construction and insurance industry that are trying to undo this law only have one thing in mind: their bottom line. The blatant effort to use minority- and women-owned construction firms against this law is laughable, given the industry’s decade-long lobbying effort to rewrite the law. After years of failure after failure to get rid of this law, they have run out of options and are hijacking civil rights as their last resort. They’re convinced they’ve found a new angle to run with by spotlighting MWBEs. What they don’t realize (or refuse to admit) is that loosened standards would actually put small MWBEs (and the minority workers they employ) at greater risk.

Minority- and women-owned construction firms already face extra scrutiny as to whether they can effectively meet all the regulatory requirements. One serious accident could undermine both their licensing from the state as well as the confidence of potential clients who want accident-free, on-time projects. A bad accident is much more likely to ruin a small firm’s future business prospects than sensible regulatory requirements.

Hey, you in the construction and insurance industries, the next time you want to use civil rights to boost your profits, be a little more discreet about it, because your latest attempt is as transparent as the windows you are hired to install.