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EXCLUSIVE! Repeated Failures By V.I. Department of Labor Force Federal Government To Fine It $17K+

catherine hendry CROP
  Labor Commissioner Catherine Hendry

CHRISTIANSTED — The U.S. Department of Labor has sanctioned the local labor department $17,298.21 for repeated failures to provide job training for youth and adults, the Virgin Islands Free Press has learned.

The exclusive information, which is contained in four letters and one memorandum  obtained exclusively by the V.I. Freep this month through the Freedom of Information Act, indicates that the V.I. Department of Labor has repeatedly not met federally-mandated goals when it comes to 1) “Youth Employment and Education Placement,” 2) “Youth Literacy,” and 3) “adult entered employment” rates.

In a letter dated June 1, 2016, U.S. DOL grant officer Laura Watson tells Labor Commissioner Catherine Hendry that her department will be fined $12,107.66 for failing to meet “negotiated goals” two years in a row.

In a similar letter to Gov. Kenneth Mapp, Assistant Labor Secretary Portia Wu informs the governor that the V.I. DOL will be fined $5,190.55 for failing to meet established goals for the number of adults entering the workforce for two consecutive years.

The Virgin Islands Free Press first reported on the fines in December of 2015 when it learned of them, but efforts to get the details from Commissioner Hendry and Government House were met with no response at all.

So the VIFreep turned to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to get the details which are contained in 14 pages of information released by the U.S. Department of Labor which document how the local labor department has failed in the same areas over the last four years, covering two different administrations, in the governments of Gov. John P. de Jongh Jr. and Mapp dating back to 2012.

Mapp took office in January 2015, but the problems with youth literacy, youth job placement and the number of adults that enter the workforce, continue to lead to fines that are a percentage of the local labor department’s budget, and have not ceased under Hendry/Mapp in 2015 and so far this year as well.

The federal fines began when former Labor Commission Albert Bryan, a 2018 gubernatorial candidate, was in office under de Jongh.

HEAVILY FINED BY FEDS: Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan’s department was also repeatedly defective under former Gov. John P. de Jongh Jr.

labor letter

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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