Guam – The Guam Department of Labor held a mandatory foreign labor compliance conference for companies who bring in H-2B workers.
Conference organizers say that H-2B numbers are actually pretty low right now but they want to be sure companies are prepared and well educated about the H-2B program rules before the buildup begins to pick up steam.
Employers who bring in H-2B workers were required to attend today’s Guam Department of Labor foreign labor compliance conference. The goal of the conference is to educate employers about the rules and regulations of the H-2B program.
“When people apply for their H-2B’s we give them the rules in writing and you know give them all of the literature that they need but not everybody reads the rules as well as some others and not everybody’s an attorney. This is our way of kind of putting it out there verbally letting some interaction happen and letting some of the rules kind of get stuck in their head in a verbal format,” says DOL Director Alien Labor Division Greg Massey.
Massey says that the H-2B program has actually scaled down quite a bit in recent years. In fact in previous years there would be up to 200 employers on Guam bringing in H-2B workers now Massey says there’s only about 67. Guam averages anywhere between 1500 and 3000 H-2B workers but Massey says that today there is just a little over 950. “Really the number of H-2’s is down right now with this little pause before the buildup. What we want to do is make sure that we get everyone kind of up to speed before the buildup comes so that they’re ready for that,” explained Massey.
Massey says there are a few small buildup projects that are happening now but he and the Department of Labor are fully expecting the military buildup to pick up steam in the next few years and with it an increase in the demand for H-2B workers. The governor’s buildup office Director Mark Calvo will be speaking to employers tomorrow about the latest with the buildup news. No major buildup projects can begin until after the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is completed and a Record of Decision signed in 2015. Admiral Samuel Locklear Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command has said that once signed it would take about 5 years to complete the buildup and move all 5,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam. “The previous buildup had a huge labor resource intensive buildup schedule. Now, we have a smaller group of marines coming but if this tentative time line of 2020 comes into effect we still have from 2015 the signing of the Record of Decision, about five years to execute construction for a complete move of marines. So that has other implications including maybe a challenge again with our labor resources,” said Calvo.
The conference also featured presentations on human trafficking, new workforce housing rules, and I-9 worker employment eligibility. The conference continues tomorrow.