Executive Order Reduces
Affirmative Action Mandates

To restore fairness and opportunity to state government, Governor Pete Wilson has issued an Executive Order repealing affirmative action requirements not required by state law or federal mandate.

The impact of this Executive Order is significant for several state agencies, but will have a lesser impact on DIR. An administrative review of DIR's operations and programs revealed that DIR had few affirmative action requirements exceeding state law or federal mandate. Some changes, however, will be noticeable in apprenticeship programs administered by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards and in DIR's hiring practices.

California has little discretion in administering its apprenticeship program. The U.S. Department of Labor, through its Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training (BAT), registers and monitors private sector apprenticeship programs designed to provide employment-based training in skilled trades and crafts. Many states, including California, operate BAT-approved state apprenticeship programs in which they register and monitor apprenticeship programs in accordance with federal requirements as well as their own regulations. Requirements in a state apprenticeship program must be consistent with and at least as strict as federal requirements. If a state does not administer an apprenticeship program, the U.S. Department of Labor does so directly. In California, the California Apprenticeship Council (CAC), created by the Shelley-Maloney Apprentice Labor Standards Act of 1939, serves as the policymaking apprenticeship body.

Federal regulations set affirmative action obligations that state programs must follow and impose on apprenticeship program sponsors. To comply with this mandate, the CAC adopted the "State of California Plan for Equal Opportunity in Apprenticeship." This regulation was adopted in 1971 and last amended in 1986.

The plan seeks to promote equality of opportunity in apprenticeship by prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or gender in apprenticeship programs and by requiring affirmative action to provide equal representation in such programs. In instances in which an apprenticeship program lacks participation by women and/or minorities at a level reasonably expected based on the composition of the local labor market, the program sponsor is required to set goals and timetables for achieving increased representation.

In California, the state's plan exceeded federal mandates on affirmative action in only a few aspects, which the Governor's Executive Order has changed.

First, the Executive Order eliminates the state requirement that apprenticeship program sponsors participate in annual workshops by women's and minority organizations. Consistent with federal regulations, sponsors only will need to participate in annual workshops by employment service agencies. Second, the state required program sponsors to disseminate information on testing and application procedures 45 days in advance. As required by federal regulations, sponsors now will have to disseminate such information only 30 days in advance. Third, the state required program sponsors to submit annual revisions to Affirmative Action Plans. Revisions now will be required only if necessary to improve effectiveness toward attainment of a program's goals.

Finally, rather than annual affirmative action compliance reviews of programs with five or more apprentices, reviews will be done less frequently where program sponsors have been making regular progress toward meeting goals. DAS also will allow timetables and flexible goals that reflect the actual experience of program sponsors in a particular trade who have been making good faith efforts to achieve goals.

Like most state agencies, DIR's hiring practices also will change as a result of the Executive Order. The order repeals a system of determining goals for hiring and promoting "underrepresented classes" which the U.S. Supreme Court held invalid. State government had used the percentage of a group in the total labor force as a basis for hiring goals. The court rejected this standard in 1987.

The Executive Order changes the process by requiring, in setting goals, use of numbers that reflect the percentage of people in a group in the statewide labor force qualified for specific jobs (relevant labor force versus general labor force). These figures more accurately represent the available and qualified workforce. For example, if 50 percent of the state labor force is female, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health no longer will set its goal for hiring female industrial hygienists at 50 percent. Instead, it will set a goal equal to the percentage of women in California who are qualified as industrial hygienists.