TAMUNING. – The Progressive Democrats of Guam (PDG) have raised concerns that the Republican Party of Guam’s senatorial candidates are not interested in representing the interests of the working people of Guam.
In just seventy-eight days, tens of thousands of ordinary working-class people may no longer have the federally-funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program to help their families support themselves with some measure of dignity. Republican senatorial candidates, except Senator Mary Torres and Ken Leon Guerrero, have either agreed with or allowed the Republican Party to speak for them against protecting unemployed workers. Evidently, they think Guam’s workers are less deserving than the workers of every state plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Now, more than ever, our working people need unemployment insurance,” said Will Parkinson, an officer of PDG. “Our people, CHamorus, Filipinos, Micronesians, and Guamanians of other ethnic heritage, have been laid off in the tens of thousands and they deserve dignity, respect, and unemployment insurance to see them through these challenging times.”
Republican senatorial candidates, without exception, have either agreed with or allowed the Republican Party to speak for them in favor of throwing hundreds of GovGuam workers out of their jobs in the middle of a period of unprecedented mass unemployment, to pay for millions in tax cuts to the wealthiest corporations. The Republican Party and its senatorial candidates have positioned themselves firmly against ordinary rank and file GovGuam workers, most, if not all, of whom continue to work through the pandemic, whether remotely or in person, to provide needed services.
Republican Party Chairman Tony Ada deserves special recognition for unscrupulous grandstanding. In 2017, former Senator Tony Ada parked his company’s hearse in front of the Guam Legislature in support of a 0.75% BPT increase. In 2018, Tony Ada was complacently silent when Governor Eddie Calvo proposed raising BPT by 2%. In 2020, former Senator Tony Ada is calling out the Progressive Democrats of Guam for suggesting that BPT stay where it is, to avoid unnecessary mass layoffs.
PDG have deep concern for both workers and their employers. The proposals PDG raised with senatorial candidates would keep tens of millions of dollars circulating in Guam’s economy, by continuing to fund unemployment benefits when PUA expires, by keeping the vast majority of $61 million in circulation by averting mass layoffs of GovGuam workers, by raising the minimum wage for Guam’s underpaid workers, and helping the entire economy prepare to reopen responsibly, by ensuring all workers have the personal protective equipment they need to come into work.
“I understand the confusion that many in the business community have about the way a whole economy works,” says Julian Janssen, Chapter Leader of PDG. “It is natural to look at your financial statements and imagine what would happen if you had to absorb an additional expense here or there. But a business is not isolated from the entire economy. An expense on your profit and loss statement is revenue on someone else’s, and an expense on theirs may be reflected in your revenue.”
The evasiveness of Republican senatorial candidates when PDG raised issues important to working families has caused concern that the Republican Party of Guam is largely anti-worker.