Saturday, May 30, 2009

Guam's build-up outrage

The Pacific Daily News is tracking the foreign labor issue closely. It should. With Guam due to bring up to 20,000 foreign laborers to build facilities for the military, the newspaper’s role as a watchdog will be paramount.

What’s really, really unfortunate, however, is this: These facilities are being built with U.S. tax dollars in support of America’s armed forces, and yet Guam has been duped into believing that this work has to be completed by foreign labor.

Why can’t U.S. labor be used from Guam, Hawaii and the mainland to build these facilities? Why can’t these jobs go to U.S. workers who will return this income back to their respective communities?

Technically, construction bidding will be open to any firm, but firms that use lower cost labor will have the advantage. To get some idea about the future of this build-up, read the PDN's story May 30 about foreign construction workers living in unfinished buildings and waiting to get paid.

Sen. Matt Rector attempted to limit use of foreign labor by imposing a $20,000 fee on each H-2B visa. His bill failed because Guam lawmakers lack the political will to come up with a method for ensuring that construction projects paid with federal tax dollars will pay the salaries of U.S. workers and not foreign labor. It really is an outrage, and, frankly, I think once more people realize outside of Guam just what is going on here, a storm will blow.