Senator George LeMieux actively secured Mexican workers for mass construction projects, neglecting the many capable unemployed Americans, a slowed economy and H2-B guidelines.
Gunster Yoakley, a firm in which LeMieux is chairman, procured foreign workers to build the elaborate St. Regis hotel and condominiums in the Bal Harbour village, via the H2-B program. In accordance to H2-B, it is illegal to hire foreign workers when there are already Americans who are available in the field.
For Gunster Yoakely to take part in the program, they were required to apply to the State Department and the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI.) This is an Agency that directly reports to the Cabinet under governor Crist.
The AWI, before moving forward, must open a 10 day span to test the job market for potential American employees. This span was initiated on October 1st of 2008. The AWI didn't advertise for these new jobs until the 6th day, in the Miami Herald. On the tenth day at 9:16 am the 10-day bracket was closed, which permitted only a three day window for people to inquire.
The AWI also must contact any relevant local unions. And they did... on day 7. Still after 9:16 am on the 10th day, no more applications were accepted, leaving the union with a mere 2 days to send in applications. Under certified letter, applications from the union arrived to the AWI on the 10th day. On the 10th of October they were received after 9:16 am and therefore they were rejected as "too late."
The State Department approved the AWI's declaration that there weren't American workers for the job. In most cases The State Department puts forth minimal effort when addressing state agencies. The AWI was headed at the time by Monesia Brown who resigned during a scandal where 250,000 social security numbers were posted on the AWI website. Publicly, Moni Brown announced her resignation to focus on family.
Some of the visas that were approved by the State Department were meant for people either working in some type of management or who have special skills that were not found elsewhere. Reportedly, the workers that were brought to the site did not have any unique skills and their tools and techniques were described as outdated.
In January of 2009, foreign workers were hired from CYVSA International, a Mexican sheet metal firm. I would like to think that we didn't have about 2,000 unemployed sheet metal workers in Florida as it is. On the "upside" you could take advantage of these workers in ways Americans wouldn't put up with; it was also reported by CBS4 News they were underpaid and worked overtime without compensation.
Officials of Gunster Yoakely, George LeMieux and a spokeswoman for Governor Crist refused to comment or did not respond when questioned about their involvement in pressing for the approval of these visas. Gunster Yoakely's officials did not respond to questions highlighting other clients it might have represented on visa issues, nor the amount of visas they gained for foreign workers to be employed in the U.S.
LeMieux chaired a firm that may have illegally secured foreign sheet metal workers during an economic crisis, where unemployment in Florida is the highest it has been since the seventies. The situation should be investigated, that way we can prevent this type of corruption from harming people who could have been rescued from unemployment.
from Leaflet Descending