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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, July 21, 2024


Sen. Roosevelt David asked Monday that anyone having problems with the territory's Workers' Compensation program contact his office.
As chair of the Senate Labor and Veterans Affairs Committee, David said in a release, he has been trying to investigate reported problems within the program. At three previously scheduled committee meetings, Labor Commissioner Sonia Jacobs Dow has failed to appear due to illness.
Problems with the Workers' Compensation fund surfaced in March when Dow and Finance Commissioner Bernice Turnbull revealed at a Senate committee hearing that it was in the red by $2.9 million. At that time, it was also noted that the insurance fund was owed $6.8 million by the V.I. government and nearly $1 million by companies.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, in a strongly wordd letter to David last week, also expressed frustration at not being able to hold a meeting with Labor Department officials. Donastorg asked David to investigate "numerous complaints by Labor Department employees" and reminded David that the problems also extend to federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration operations in the territory.
David, in his release issued Monday, said he thinks the department's problems stem from "inefficient management, and not from lack of funds." He noted that $1.6 million was initially appropriated for the operation of Workers' Compensation this fiscal year, with additional funding appropriated by the Senate in March.
Labor employees staged a walkout last spring on St. Croix over working conditions. Another job action took place on St. Thomas in May over payroll deductions made because employees failed to show up for a retreat on St. Croix that had been scheduled during V.I. Carnival week.
As his office is continuing to receive complaints, David said, his concerns about the management of the Labor Department are growing. He said he is planning a meeting for late this month on the matter, at a date to be announced. He asked that anyone with questions about the department's operations call his office at (340) 693-3664.

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