To promote a shared understanding of a mutually beneficial agreement between the Governments of Jamaica and the United States, together with employers and workers, and to unconditionally serve the interest and welfare of all Jamaican workers through an efficient Liaison Service in compliance with the Labour Laws of the United States.
To offer superior service delivery to support employer satisfaction, business retention, and existing programme expansion, and to satisfy the demands of the labour market through the inclusion of other diversified skill sets.
CHIEF LIAISON OFFICER’S MESSAGE
Before my appointment as Chief Liaison Officer, at the Jamaica Central Labour Organization (JCLO), I could not have imagined the dynamics surrounding the Seasonal Overseas Work Programme organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, annexed to the Embassy of Jamaica, and supported by its Liaison Service Corp in the United States.
It soon became clear that the ‘Farm Workers’ and ‘Hotel Workers’ Programme as they are popularly referred to, serve to build relationships, fuel both economies and, more importantly, provide hope for many Jamaican families that are economically challenged.
Jamaica boasts the distinction of being the only country, among over eighty participating nations, to have an active Liaison Service primarily to support the welfare of Jamaican workers while working closely with employers and the United States Department of Labour. It is safe to say that service above self and the love of people and country are core values that drive the Liaison team.
Amidst the inevitable challenges, the Liaison team continues to experience joy in serving while working closely with the local team at the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica and an invaluable partnership with Florida East Coast Travel Service (FLECTS) located in Miami, Florida.
From the management of domestic affairs in Jamaica to unexpected illnesses and misunderstandings based on cultural differences, I have come to realize that what appears to be a simple daily revolving routine is, in fact a valuable lifeline impacting generations of people, particularly those in the farm work programme.
When it comes to the tradition of excellence, The Jamaica Central Labour Organization (JCLO) stands tall. This body was founded upon a legacy which began more than seven decades ago through an entity that was established by the Governments of a number of West Indian countries to administer the foreign employment programme in the United States.
The programme began in 1943 with skilled agricultural workers and other employees – H2-A workers, who worked primarily in the factories and packing houses. Twenty five years later, JCLO spread its wings to accommodate other skilled workers in the hospitality industry – H2-B workers. In 2003, these two programmes combined accounted for just under 9000 employees from the Caribbean and covered a network of close to 500 employers across twenty four (24) States.
From the very beginning Jamaican workers have played a significant role in the development of the economies that they serve. To that extent, the Government of Jamaica, through the JCLO, is committed to our Global Partners by providing an effective Liaison Service. Our dynamic Liaison Team ensures that the welfare of the selected workers are attended to through a diverse range of services including guidance and assistance on programme-related issues relative to workers and employers. They also ensure that all policies and procedures of the programme are adhered to.
We pride ourselves in providing only the best and most skilled workers. Recognizing the high importance of service in the agricultural and hospitality industries, we are committed to the delivery of a well-trained work force. JCLO, as an organization with seven decades of experience in both industries, has established a strong support mechanism for all our partners and we are only too happy to share information from our vast expanse of knowledge. Through the Ministry of Labour in Jamaica, there is a pool of over 2000 qualified workers from which employers or their agents have the opportunity to select specialized workers.
The Ministry of Labour, through the Embassy of Jamaica, has strategically positioned Liaison Officers throughout the United States.
The Core Responsibilities of Liaison Officers with respect to services offered to Jamaican Seasonal Workers are listed as follows:
- Legal matters
- Health Issues
- Natural Disasters
- Conflict Resolutions
- Return of Remains
“On October 16, 2004, I travelled to the United States to work on the hotel worker programme. We were met at the airport by our Liaison Officer Mrs. Debbie Hutchinson and right away I felt very relaxed. Two hundred of us left our families to come and work and make a better life for our loved ones. “
“While we were in the United States, Debbie made us feel comfortable and safe no matter what type of problems we had. She would be present at all times even if she had to come through bad weather to help us deal with extremely personal issues. Barbarella Lewis “
“During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I was transferred to Louisiana where I had the opportunity of meeting another helpful Liaison Officer, Mr. Sheldon Brown, who stayed with us and reassured us throughout both Hurricane Katrina & Rita. “
“I also remember Mrs. Brabara DaCosta and Mr. Clayton Solomon who were also very supportive. The Liaison team is very caring and I love how they take time to assist the Jamaican workers who are away from home. ”
“I am truly thankful. Thank you officers for a great experience. “
“Congratulations to you and all the staff of JCLO on your 75th Anniversary. I can’t believe how the time passes by so fast. It seems like it was only last year when we were in Montego Bay celebrating your 40th Anniversary. That year was when the JCLO held annual meetings and it was indeed an honor to participate. I believe we have been in the program now for over 50 years. “
“Our relationship and feelings about JCLO remains as strong as ever. Our local workforce of employees that want to do agricultural work shrinks every year. We depend on the great, dedicated group of workers that we receive every year. These good men are like family to our family farm. “
“All this is not taken for granted, as we need the continued support of the great support staff, the liaison staff that we work with whenever we need them. These men and women perform a service that only they can perform for our crew. When one of the crew takes ill, gets injured, or loses family back home, these staff workers can make an unbelievable difference how that worker responds. Having one of their own to talk to comforts them and recovery can be many times faster. “
Franklyn W. Carlson, Pres.
Carlson Orchards, Inc.
Harvard, MA. 01451
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- WHAT DO I DO IF I AM SICK?
If you feel terribly ill, please call 911, especially if it’s an emergency, every minute counts. Even if you don’t have health insurance calling an ambulance could make all the difference in preserving your life. If you feel strong enough, but have concerns, arrange a visit to your primary physician, visit the nearby clinic or go to the Emergency Room. If the illness is not serious, feel free to talk with the liaison officer assigned to your area. Ignoring symptoms because you do not have the money to go a doctor is unwise. What could be a minor issue at the time may become a more serious issue over time.
- WHAT IF I HAVE A WORK RELATED INJURY?
If you are injured on the job, you must alert your supervisor or manager immediately. Look around to see if there are other workers present who may have witnessed the accident/injury and make a note. Please contact your liaison officer as soon as you are safe to do so. Your liaison officer will be able to monitor your care and assist with managing your records. Make all appointments for care. If asked to return to work, please comply. If unable to work advise your supervisor so that adjustments can be made. Communicate respectfully no matter what or however difficult the situation may be.
- WHAT IF MY SALARY IS NOT CORRECT?
If for any reason you believe that your salary calculation is incorrect, please contact the Human Resources Department or your supervisor/employer immediately. Remember to contact your liaison officer also and include a copy of your pay advice.
- WHAT IF THERE IS AN EMERGENCY BACK HOME?
If there is an emergency back home, speak with your employer and advise your direct supervisor and the liaison officer. The liaison service will monitor your safe repatriation and return to the United States. Also the liaison service is required to keep precise records of your movement between countries.
- WHAT IF I HAVE A WORK RELATED ISSUE?
Work related issues may develop from time to time, please contact your liaison officer who is very knowledgeable and will be able to clarify how best to proceed. Contact your LIAISON immediately, especially if you fear that you may be terminated or suspended.
- WHAT IF I HAVE AN ISSUE WITH SOMEONE?
Personal conflicts can be very disruptive. Remember there is zero tolerance for violence on and off the job. Avoid confrontations. Speak with your liaison officer who can arrange a meeting to have the matter resolved.
- WHAT IF I MISS MY FLIGHT?
There are many reasons why someone might miss a flight therefore this solution can only be determined on a case by case scenario.
Speak with your employer and liaison officer to determine how to proceed.
- WHAT IF I LOSE MY PASSPORT?
If you lose your passport early in the season you may have time to apply for a new one through the Embassy of Jamaica or one of the Consulates located in your area. Your liaison officer can guide you. If time does not allow, the Consulate nearest to you can issue a temporary emergency passport to allow you to safely return home. Talk with your liaison officer, he or she will be able to guide you through the process.
- WHAT IS AN I-94?
The I-94 is proof of your legal entry in the United States. It also documents the period of stay that has been granted by the US authorities. When the United States (US) grants permission for someone to legally enter the country, an I-94 is issued. It is no longer a card issued at the airport or filled out on flights. This document is retrieved by visiting the Homeland Security Website at www.cbp.gov. Please note that customs officials can make mistakes when entering this document. It is therefore crucial to look at what is stamped in your passport before leaving the arrival section at the airport. Ensure the correct year is stamped in your passport. Make sure the correct work visa designation is assigned. Make sure the date written in by the officer is also correct and covers the contract period of the work visa.
- WHY IS THE I-94 IMPORTANT?
The I-94 is a legal document. It is required:
When applying for your Social Security Number
When applying for health insurance
When applying for a driver’s license
When applying for an extension of stay
It establishes your legal presence in the United States
If your presence is questioned this document becomes necessary
This document must be kept in your wallet or purse at all times.
- HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN THE UNITED STATES AFTER MY VISA HAS EXPIRED?
The work visa reflects the work contract; therefore, the end dates are the same. Generally, the law provides an extra 10 days for the worker to make his way out of the country. You may not work during this period. This period allows the worker to pack, coordinate and ship belongings and then proceed to the airport for the return home. In the event that the worker is seeking an extension, a period of 30 days from the end of the first contract is given. In such instances the new employer should provide a receipt indicating that an extension has been filed on behalf of the worker. If during this window approval is not granted the worker should return home immediately. Please contact your liaison officer when in doubt.