U.S. Mayor lauds Jamaican Overseas Hotel Workers
by Derrick Scott
Washington, DC – Mayor of the city of Mackinac Island in Michigan, Margaret Dodd, has praised Jamaican hotel workers for their valuable contribution to the success of her city’s hospitality industry, and the Jamaican government for maintaining the U.S. Hotel Worker Program for over seventy-six years.
“I want to applaud the Government and you Minister Shahine Robinson for the excellent workers you have been sending to the various hotels in my city over the past thirty-five years. The Jamaican workers are very important to this island and the city, especially to the business community,” Mayor Dodd declared.
She was addressing a meeting of hotel employers hosted by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Ms. Shahine Robinson at the Mackinac Island City Hall on Thursday, July 8.
Mayor Dodd pointed out that Jamaican workers were essential to the operation of the tourist industry on the island, and that her city would find it difficult to operate without them.
The Mayor emphasized that there was an urgent need for the U.S. to look at expanding the program to satisfy quotas.
“I am very concerned that the program should keep going as I would like to see it continue. We should come up an easier way to get workers from Jamaica. Over the years it has been extremely difficult to attract workers in the numbers that hotels require. This creates a hardship on hotel operators since they are not able to open on time which subsequently impacts on their bottom line”.
If we can cross this major hurdle, it will help to alleviate the worker shortage problem and make it better for the hotel industry and the workers who look forward to being employed through the program.
Minister Robinson in her remarks said that her ministry was in talks with U.S. authorities with a view to expanding the program, because of the high demand for Jamaican workers in U.S. hotels.
She added that more than 475 Jamaican workers account for fifty percent of the hospitality labor force in Traverse city, Mackinaw city and Mackinac island. She further pointed out the Jamaican Government views the program as vital to the Jamaican economy as well as to the Jamaican workers and U.S. employers.
The Jamaican Labour minister was on her first official visit to Michigan to get a first-hand view of how the U.S. Hotel Worker Program was working and to reconnect with U.S. legislators, employers and workers in an effort to grow the program and expand services.
The Minister and her delegation toured properties like the Grand Traverse Hotel, Best West Dockside Hotel, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and the Mission Point Hotel, as well as met with employers and the over 475 Jamaican hotel workers.
On the tour, the Minister was accompanied by Mrs. Collette Roberts-Risden, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; Mrs. Beatrice Rhoden, Advisor to the Minister; Ms. Lorraine Young, Administrator in the Overseas Works Program; Mrs. Methilina Scarlett-Jones, Chief Liaison Officer for the Jamaica Central Labor Organization (JCLO), based in Washington, DC and Mr. Gladston Moore, JCLO Liaison Officer for Michigan.