Affirmative Action and
The decade of the 1960s was a significant period for the development of affirmative action, just as it was for social policy on a number of other important issues. By the end of the 1960s, a process was firmly in place that would dramatically transform affirmative action from an orientation grounded squarely on the principle of nondiscrimination in a literal sense to an approach that transcended a strict interpretation of the meaning of nondiscrimination. This transformation was accomplished largely through the use of numerical goals or targets for minority (and eventually female) employment and the limited preferences associated with those goals. Events that led to this significant shift had their roots in the social turmoil of the 1960s and the slow rate of progress achieved in the struggle to provide opportunities for racial minorities and women. The process of change began, however, only after the issuance of President Johnson's Executive Order 11246.
After the Department of Labor received responsibility for equal employment opportunity oversight with respect to government contractors as required by Johnson's order, Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz established an enforcement agency within the department known as the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).1 This new office soon began to focus attention on the construction industry. The construction trades and the unions that organized them were notorious for discriminatory behavior. Minority workers were excluded from federally assisted apprenticeship