First batch of foreign labor workers now on Guam - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

First batch of foreign labor workers now on Guam

Posted: Jun 13, 2018 2:34 PM Updated:

The first group of about 30 new H-2B workers has arrived. Their number had dropped to zero over the past three years, as USCIS has been rejecting nearly all applications. Local officials are welcoming the arrivals as much-needed help for the construction industry here.

This first batch will be employed by the PHC corporation for construction work on Andersen Air Force Base. Greg Massey of the Labor department's Alien Labor Processing and Certification Division said, "Well, it's good news, it's a start. It is a little bit easing of the labor pains that we've had, and as more workers come in there's going to be more confidence and hopefully some of these projects get moving."

More than 650 H-2 labor applications have been approved so far, as authorized under a provision of the defense spending bill. But Massey says they still haven't seen a big surge among contractors despite the work that's coming up. "Right now, it's going to be more really for the military projects. Those are still good for Guam, we're still getting tax money off those and still benefits the island and hopefully frees up some of the US workers from these federal projects to go out and work in the outside projects," he said.

The NDAA worker approvals apply only to military projects, and not for work outside the fence. Local contractors filed suit against USCIS to revert back to the process when most H-2 labor applications were approved. They won a recent district court ruling, but that's been appealed and further litigation is pending. Massey believes contractors are still worried about getting rejected, because the H-2 application process is costly.

"It's not like you can just fill out a form and send it in. it's a lot more complicated than that so, employers don't typically want to engage in that unless they've got some certainty that they're actually going to get a good result," he shared.

Massey says the newly arrived workers still need to be processed by DOL and issued foreign labor ID cards before they can start work. 

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