Report: 1,600 civilian jobs with buildup
By Steve Limtiaco • Pacific Daily News • October 16, 2009
The military buildup is expected to create at least 1,600 full-time civilian jobs on Guam to support the Marines, Air Force and Navy, according to a labor report released yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The Army also will need full-time civilian workers, the report states, but no estimates are available.
The military plans to transfer about 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to a new base on Guam by 2014 as part of a military buildup that also will see increases in Air Force, Navy and Army activity on the island.
The Marine Corps, which is expected to hire the bulk of those civilian workers -- at least 1,450 -- believes most of those jobs need to be filled by Guam residents "because the officials do not think that many current employees will move from Okinawa," the report states.
The number and types of jobs required could remain sketchy until next January, the report states, when the military finalizes the buildup's environmental impact statement. That statement is expected to include an analysis of the buildup's socioeconomic impact.
The report notes that the University of Guam believes the military will need qualified engineers and is considering setting up a new engineering program -- a process that could take three years.
But the university needs better information about the types of jobs and when they will be needed, the report states.
The Defense Department needs to keep Guam's government and educational community better informed about the labor requirements and opportunities that will be created on the island, the report states.
"Without this information, the government of Guam may be challenged to effectively plan for potential jobs that support the buildup and future continuing military presence, including the ability to train and prepare individuals so they qualify for these jobs," it said.
The transfer of the Marines would be a huge economic boon for Guam, if it's prepared to handle the influx and all the jobs the move will create.
It's estimated the move will cost $15 billion or more and will generate as many as many as 20,000 construction jobs during peak phases, GAO determined.
Basic infrastructure construction is scheduled to begin next year, and lawmakers want as many as possible of the jobs to go to American workers. A provision in the recently passed Defense Authorization bill contains provisions that promote the hiring of American labor.
Specifically, the bill:
# Requires that contractors advertise for and recruit American workers before foreign workers can be hired;
# Gives the Labor Department broad oversight authority over contractors; and
# Mandates that Guam's prevailing wages be reassessed and, if necessary, readjusted so they're more aligned with mainland pay. This would discourage importing foreign workers.
The Pentagon replied to the GAO report, saying, "It is the department's intent to provide the maximum advance information to the government of Guam."
It added, "The DOD will identify federal civilian and contractor support positions as they become known to assist the government of Guam in the planning for the necessary adjustment in local facilities and public services, workforce training programs and local economic development activities."