Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bordallo urged to push buildup resolution

Bordallo urged to push buildup resolution

By Dionesis Tamondong • Pacific Daily News • February 13, 2010

With the unanimous approval of Resolution 275, Sen. Frank Blas Jr. reminded Delegate Madeleine Bordallo of her promise to support and represent to Congress the many issues listed in the measure.

The resolution, which the Legislature approved on Thursday, raises many issues concerning the draft Environmental Impact Statement and the impact of the military's buildup plans on Guam.

Resolution 275 also urges Congress to address long-standing local issues, including war reparations, Compact-impact reimbursement, the removal of Medicaid funding caps and unreturned ancestral land.

"In light of your commitment to represent the position of the Legislature on behalf of the people of Guam as contained in Resolution 275 to members of both the House and Senate, I thank you for this promise and look forward to your introduction of measures that would address our concerns and also provide resolution to our long-standing issues," Blas wrote in a letter sent to her office yesterday afternoon.

The letter was just one of several sent by local senators to Bordallo's office this past week.

Foreign workers

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, in a series of letters, called on Bordallo to reconsider her position on allowing the use of foreign workers on buildup-related construction projects.

Cruz cited estimates in the draft EIS report that H-2 workers will spend about 20 percent of their income in the local economy, while workers hired locally are estimated to spend 45 percent of their income here.

"Based on the (Department of Defense's) anticipated expenditures from 2010 through 2016, local workers are expected to infuse about $471 million into Guam's economy, while H-2 workers are anticipated to infuse about $294 million," Cruz said in his letter.

He said the decision to use H-2 workers represents a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars that otherwise would've contributed to Guam's economy.

Bordallo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent to her office Thursday.

Though Guam is exempt from the national annual cap on the hiring of foreign workers, the labor regulations require employers to hire local workers first.

For example, before employers file an application, they have to put out an advertisement and make efforts to recruit locally before applying to Guam's Department of Labor to hire foreign labor.

The Guam Contractors Association Trades Academy continues to train and prepare residents for thousands of construction jobs anticipated with the buildup.

But officials have said companies still will have to hire from off island because there aren't enough skilled construction workers to hire locally.

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