September 30, 2018
Hagåtña – Acting Governor Ray Tenorio met with visiting Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, and Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, Commander Joint Region Marianas, this morning at the JRM headquarters.
In the meeting, Tenorio expressed concern about the ongoing skilled labor shortage as a result of the H2B restriction for civilian construction and infrastructure projects in Guam, and the impact this is having on the cost of living for local families.
“While most people in Guam support the military buildup and acknowledge the economic benefits it brings, I cautioned Under Secretary Modly that this enthusiasm may be short lived as the federal government has not lived up to the ‘One Guam’ approach by addressing the H2B policy to relieve labor shortages for civilian projects,” Tenorio said.
In recent years, a sudden shift in federal policy led to a sharp reversal of H2B labor approvals for Guam. This caused a drastic shortage of skilled laborers – which was only partially addressed by the National Defense Authorization Act’s approval for H2B workers for military-related projects. It does nothing to relieve the need for private sector or local government projects. This contradicts the ‘One Guam’ approach and has since inflated the cost of local housing and construction substantially.
“Guam and the military must align our mutual interests to solve the skilled labor shortage for non-military projects. Left unresolved, it undermines the ‘One Guam’ approach between the military and the people of Guam,” Tenorio said. “While I support the Buildup, when commitments by the Department of Defense do not translate into action, credibility is jeopardized.”
To proactively address the rising cost of housing and the H2B labor shortage, Tenorio previously announced plans for tuition-free trades schools and college, as well as building 2,000 affordable homes at around $800 a month for first time home buyers.
“While these local initiatives will grow our workforce and temper the rising cost of housing for working families, we can achieve so much more as a community if the federal government upholds their end of the One Guam agreement,” Tenorio said.
Tenorio said the meeting was both cordial and constructive, and he was optimistic that the Navy was hearing the people of Guam’s concerns.
September 30, 2018