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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, April 1, 2023
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Shortage of Qualified Workers Indeed

Dear Source:

I would be the first person not to condone a company breaching a contract. I am not writing to take sides on whether the companies accused have violated the law. However, one of them stated that there is a "shortage of qualified workers" referred to them by the Department of Labor.
My experience over the last few months in finding people to do work at my home has been more than frustrating. First the move was a disaster–the moving company must have hired demolition experts. Not only were numerous pieces of furniture scratched and chipped, but one of the trucks tore 40 feet of gutter off the corner of the house, and some of the workers stood around most of the time.
Then came the hiring of contractors to do rather simple work. The plumber scratched the new countertop when installing a sink. The electrician who switched the wiring so a separate meter could be installed by WAPA announced he was finished and all I had to do was to go down to WAPA. A month later, he finally filed the required paperwork with DPNR. WAPA won't install a meter until the electric inspector from DPNR inspects the job. The St. Thomas/St. John inspector "retired," according to DPNR (although the electrician said the inspector quit). I called every day last week to schedule an inspection. Someone from the media called and was told that the St. Croix inspector, the only one for the territory, was coming twice a week to St. Thomas. By Friday, the person I am connected with whenever I ask for someone to schedule an inspection, said the inspector was not in at all last week and no one has told her when he is coming. She said there is a long list of people in St. Thomas waiting for inspections so that they can get power.
I bought a refrigerator from Home Depot and over two weeks of going in and calling for repair, all that had been done was an email to Puerto Rico. I got on the phone to the company which made the refrigerator and they scheduled maintenance for two days later. The repairman called me for directions to the house. He sounded confused, so after a long recitation of directions and asking him where he was, he gave me an address that didn't make sense. I asked him if he were in St. Thomas. The reply: "NO, I'm in Richmond Virginia!" I had Home Depot haul the refrigerator back and got a refund.
A friend of mine had hurricane shutters installed and warned me about the outfit, so I'm not using them. They left debris all over her property and misused her vacuum cleaner without her permission.
I don't know if the problem is that such workers are not qualified or whether they are lacking in work ethic. Obviously, it's not any better in the states. On such a small island it is unbelievable that independent contractors stay in business with shoddy workmanship and chronic lack of returning phone calls or coming on the day and time they say they are coming.
Can someone tell me why the work ethic, if not dead, is in critical condition?

Dena Langdon
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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