St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – With hundreds of job vacancies in the Virgin Islands Government, Senator Samuel Carrión is calling for an organized effort to assist displaced workers, following Monday’s announcement that Limetree Bay Terminals’ refining operations will be shut down indefinitely due to extreme financial constraints. The Senator also made note of the many
major disaster recovery construction projects soon to be underway within the Territory.
“I am requesting that the Bryan/Roach Administration host a job fair exclusively for the Virgin Islanders impacted- directly and indirectly- by the refinery shutdown and expand the Department of Labor’s (VIDOL) Rapid Response Team,” Senator Carrión said. “Every government agency that has come before the Committee on Finance has expressed the challenges they are experiencing in recruiting and filling these vacancies. I am asking that our Division of Personnel (DOP) and VIDOL get to work immediately on matching some of these displaced workers with available government jobs, including within our semiautonomous agencies. There are also specific federal grants that VIDOL can apply to for additional support.”
The Senator is also asking that some of the Territory’s construction companies also participate in the proposed job fair, given the multitude of major projects now on the horizon.
“The Government likely cannot absorb all the displaced workers, given the specialized skills required for certain positions, but securing stable employment for as many as half of the displaced workforce is a realistic goal,” Senator Carrión said.
“I am also calling on DOP to revisit some of the various job requirements to determine whether someone without all the requisite experience can be trained – let’s give these individuals the opportunity to succeed,” Senator Carrión said. “Filling existing vacancies is a short-term solution, but we must also look ahead to the disaster recovery projects that will be- finally- getting underway, as well as to the increasing number of opportunities in renewable energy.”
Senator Carrión noted that President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has committed to investing more than $100 billion in clean energy initiatives with the ultimate goal of moving towards carbon pollution free power by 2035.
“We must push for programs and funding to train Virgin Islanders for work in rebuilding our energy infrastructure,” the Senator stated. “These changes are coming, and the new, stricter regulatory environment for oil refining is indicative of what we can expect from the Biden Administration.”
Senator Carrión said he remains very concerned about the workers, families and ancillary businesses impacted by the suspension of refinery operations.
“Long before the ‘flaring events’ and the EPA’s involvement, the refinery had major financial problems that threatened its operations,” he said. “The local government has little direct authority in this matter; however, we do have the power to ensure that the cleanup of roofs and cisterns continues, to make every effort to assist workers and businesses negatively impacted by the suspension of refinery operations, and to prioritize the health and safety of our people, especially the affected residents of St. Croix.