Guam – H-2 workers are being hired as landscapers, cooks, butchers, spa therapists, and concierges, positions that Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz says should be filled by Guam workers.
Cruz the federal cap on H-2 workers should be re-instated and he has written to Congresswoman Bordallo about his concerns over the H-2 program..
The federal cap on H-2 workers was removed in anticipation of the military buildup. The idea at the time was that Guam was short of skilled laborers particularly in areas of construction and in order to meet the buildup demands more H-2 workers would have to be brought in. However, the buildup has not proceeded as planned and instead companies are bringing in h-2 workers to fill other positions that aren’t related to the buildup and have nothing to do with construction.
“This has been ongoing since the beginning of this Calvo administration when I used to write to Leah Beth almost daily,” said Cruz adding, “and I was really concerned about the fact we were bringing in landscapers at the time and having some really ridiculous things they were requiring and still paying them only barely seven or eight dollars an hour and then it got worse they were bringing in scuba divers and scuba dive instructors and wedding planners.”
In the most recent report he’s received from the Department of Labor out of the 964 H-2 laborers currently on Guam none of them belong to large off-island contractors related to Department of Defense projects.
Instead more and more H-2 workers are being brought in for other purposes for example, paradise spa brought in two massage therapists from Indonesia, Aurora Resort and Spa brought in 6 Spa therapists from the Philippines, Spa Bali 8 massage therapists from Indonesia, Sheraton Laguna Guam Resort brought in 3 concierges from Japan, LMS Guam brought in 8 landscape gardeners from the Philippines, Ben-N-Yan’s brought in 16 h-2 workers from the Philippines as specialty cooks, and even the restaurant Churasco brought in two H-2’s from Korea one as a butcher and one as a sous chef. “I mean our GCC wins culinary awards when they go to the states employ these people you saw on the list a sous chef that’s only chopping up stuff that’s a sous chef and you bring somebody in for doing that it’s just ridiculous,” said the Vice-Speaker.
Even the Guam Shipyard brought in 81 H-2 workers. Cruz says that there are residents who are capable of filling most of these positions and these positions should go to residents. “If they’re not being used in build up related industries let the local people or the residents that are living on Guam now be the ones to take these jobs and lets bring the unemployment rate down to 7 or 8 percent or even lower if we can,”
Congresswoman Bordallo has responded to Vice-Speaker Cruz in a letter saying that the cap was lifted but with a sunshine provision that ends in December of this year which means the cap will be re-instated at that time.