Just passed Guam bill increases foreign worker fees

Local workforce training programs to receive boost from new revenue

 Guam senators voted 13-1 on Tuesday  to pass Senator Régine Biscoe Lee’s Bill 250-34 (LS) that will generate up to $4 million in new revenue for the government through increased foreign worker fees on federal construction projects. The bill is co-sponsored by Speaker Benjamin F. Cruz, Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje, and Sens. Thomas C. Ada, Joe S. San Agustin, Telena C. Nelson, Thomas A. Morrison, Mary C. Torres, Louise B. Muna, William M. Castro, and Fernando B. Esteves and also has the support of the Guam Department of Labor and Guam Community College. Governor Calvo has previously announced his support for increasing the Alien Labor Processing Fee, and Senator Lee now calls on the governor to sign the bill into law.

 

“The passage of this bill into law would provide a critical investment and new revenue without raising the cost on local civilian projects that need temporary non-immigrant workers,” said Lee, chairwoman of the Committee on Innovation and Economic, Workforce, and Youth Development in the 34th Guam Legislature. “The fee serves as a disincentive for using non-immigrant workers as a primary source of labor needs while also directly supporting stronger investment in Guam’s workforce development. More training and funding programs through this bill will lead to higher earnings for our people in high-demand jobs.”

 

The measure doubles the registration fee of non-immigrant temporary workers from $1,091 to $2,091 on federal construction projects only. The fee, as before, will be paid to the Guam Department of Labor and the Apprenticeship Training Program at Guam Community College. 

 

The committee and the bill’s 11 co-sponsors worked to ensure the measure was balanced as it related to the key stakeholders and programs in workforce development like the alien labor program and the apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs out of GDOL and Guam Community College, both of which support the bill as amended.

 

“GCC supports Bill 250-34, as amended,” said Mary A.Y. Okada, President and CEO of Guam Community College. “It allows for the college and its partners to continue to focus on building the capacity of our workforce through the Apprenticeship Program. The successful completion of the apprenticeship program provides opportunities for employees that commit the time needed to successfully complete a journey worker’s certification. This valuable journey worker certification will increase the skill levels of our local workforce needed to support our economy.” 

 

Guam Department of Labor Director Sam Mabini is also in favor of the bill’s passage, saying:

 

“The Department is pleased with the passage of the bill, which strengthens the original intent of the existing law, reminding employers of the additional cost of foreign labor is directed to fund training of local workers. It still allows for supplementary labor when needed but should serve as a noticeable disincentive to utilize foreign labor. 

 

We are also encouraged by the changes to the statute that allow for more versatile and customizable locally funded job training. It also gives the Department the ability to obtain vitally needed legal expertise to help enforce labor laws designed to protect the rights of all of Guam’s workers.”

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