Seasonal worker shortage takes toll on Bar Harbor businesses

Foreign worker shortage takes its toll

BAR HARBOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --As tourism season is set to kick off in Bar Harbor, seasonal businesses are scrambling to reopen their doors. Many are doing so without the help of some of their most important employees.

Management at restaurants and hotels all over town are hoping to fill many of their seasonal employment openings with foreign workers. From May to October, these workers are the lifeblood of a dwindling workforce.

"There's jobs that Americans won't do," Bar Harbor resident, Suzie Gleason said,"the foreigners fill a slot and we need these people to help us run our season."

 Hundreds of foreign workers come to Bar Harbor each year through the federal H-2B visa program. However, President Trump cut this program nearly in half. 

That means hotels like those owned by Witham Family Hotels, which usually hires several workers from Jamaica, have to look for workers in their own backyard for the time being.

"We're really looking for a lot of local people," Director of Human Resources, Terri Swanson, said.

Swanson says Witham Family Hotels will open regardless of the worker shortage, stating that last year they didn't have H-2B workers until late June. She added that hotel employees from all departments came together to help make bed, rake leaves, and do other tasks they would hire seasonal workers for.

These are things they'll no doubt have to do again this season if the visa situation doesn't change.

 

© 2017 WLBZ-TV


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