76.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Friday, December 2, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLabor Details Plans to Increase Employment

Labor Details Plans to Increase Employment

March 25, 2009 — Boosting job opportunities for local residents, especially in the midst of an ailing economy, has been the basis for many upcoming initiatives within the Labor Department, officials told senators Wednesday.
On top of the pile is a renewed effort to investigate employee complaints about discrimination, the illegal hiring of workers and wrongful discharge cases, among other things, Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan Jr. said during a Senate Labor and Agriculture Committee hearing. While most of the hearing focused on the regulation of local Economic Development Commission (EDC) beneficiaries, Bryan said later that the complaints come from different areas of the community.
One of the department's workmen's compensation investigators has, over the past year, doubled as a special investigator assigned to look into some of the complaints. About four investigations have been launched since she has been on the job, including a review of Marriott Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort, its hiring practices and how close the hotel has stuck to requirements laid out in its EDC certificate.
The final investigative report by the department's Labor Relations, Planning Research and Monitoring division claims the hotel has failed to register its job vacancies with Labor using the department's fast-fax form, hire the required number of local employees or keep up-to-date records of its employees, among other things. Violations were also laid out, such as the issuance of dummy Social Security numbers, incomplete documents and payments made to local employees from an account outside the territory.
But the report also lays blame on the EDC for not fining the hotel, and the Labor Relations Division for not inspecting Marriott's records for the past eight years.
"It was determined … that these violations were subsequently reported to the Division of Planning, Research and Monitoring, to the EDC, by means of a Department of Labor compliance form," the report says. "It was uncovered that the EDC, after receiving the violations, did not assess fines or sanctions, but granted Frenchman's Reef an extension, to submit the pertinent information to the Department of Labor by November 2008."
The investigation was launched in August 2008. In a statement dated January 2009, Marriot's attorney said the hotel has complied with the most "fundamental" provisions within the EDC certificate — including meeting the 80-percent residency threshold for local employees — and is concerned with certain "factually inaccurate statements and legally incorrect conclusions" included in the report.
Since the investigation, the hotel has cooperated, complying with many recommendations in the report, Bryan said later. The findings have been turned over to Licensing and Consumer Affairs, and a hearing on the matter is expected in about 90 days, he said.
Meanwhile, the department has made its primary focus boosting local residents with increased job training, Bryan said during the hearing. This includes coordination with Education, career and technical education centers, and the offering of GED prep courses to applicants who don't have a high school degree, as well as the creation of resource centers in both districts.
The number of jobs on the market has recently dropped from triple to double digits. Once up to 250 a week, the number of available jobs per week has dipped to an "abysmal" 67, Bryan said. It's now up to residents to take the initiative and strengthen their skills, he said. Labor has the money to do it, and plans to invest about $3 million over the next year to help beef up the resumes of about 2,000 workers, Bryan said.
Efforts have also been made to connect with the unions and build craft guilds, or pools of specialized workers, that can be used as a resource for outside contractors. Once a contractor comes to the territory it would be able to pick from a pool of certified experts that can work on a particular project, such as pipefitters, boilermakers and welders, Bryan said.
Present during Wednesday's hearing were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Shawn-Michael Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Usie R. Richards, Nereida Rivera-O'Reilly, Sammuel Sanes and Patrick Simeon Sprauve.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.