After officials at the Palm Beach county employment office announced they would hold a series of job fairs this month to help resorts and hotels hire local workers, more than 100 employers signed on, including the Hyatt, the Hilton, and the Waldorf Astoria.
Two well known local employers, however, have so far been conspicuously absent from the push to hire local U.S. workers: the Mar-a-Lago club and the Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, both owned by Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump.
Trump has centered his presidential campaign around restoring American jobs. But when it comes to many of his own operations, from New York to Virginia to Florida, Trump has instead imported foreign guest workers on temporary visas, insisting that no Americans want the work.
His companies asserted that again this summer, when Mar-a-Lago and the Jupiter golf club filed applications seeking approval to import up to 78 servers, housekeepers and cooks at the two resorts.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment this week, and nor did the Trump golf club. Mar-a-Lago officials could not be reached for comment. In the past, Trump has said it is “almost impossible” to find Americans who want such jobs, which pay between $10.17 and $12.74 per hour. “You can’t get help,” Trump told MSNBC last year, when asked about his use of the program.
But officials at CareerSource Palm Beach County, a workforce development agency chartered by the state of Florida, say Trump’s companies have failed to avail themselves of free recruitment efforts that might help them find qualified American workers who want the jobs.
For instance, on July 31, Mar-a-Lago and the Trump golf club posted lengthy classified advertisements for the jobs in the Palm Beach Post jobs section seeking U.S. workers — one of the steps required by the federal government before bringing in guest workers.
However, Mar-a-Lago and Jupiter never told the Palm Beach County employment office they had openings, even though they listed the office on the advertisements.
“Our staff found out about them by seeing the advertisements … and contacted the state about them,” said Tom Veenstra, a senior director at the agency. He added that employers who want local workers “can receive valuable recruiting, pre-screening and referral services at no cost” from his agency. “We assign a recruiter for those jobs.”
Veenstra has also told BuzzFeed News that he has “hundreds of people in our database that would qualify for a lot of those hospitality jobs.”
H-2 visas allow employers to bring people from other countries into America as “guest workers” to fill temporary positions. One of the strictest rules of the H-2 program is that American workers must always be given preference in hiring. Companies seeking these visas are required by law to show that they already tried, but failed, to find Americans for the job.
In addition to this latest request for 78 visas, in the year since Trump launched his presidential campaign, companies owned by him or bearing his name had already sought and won permission from the Department of Labor to hire at least 149 foreign guest workers.