Massachusetts hospitality industry looks to place Puerto Rican workers


Bob Luz, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, along with the Massachusetts Lodging Association, and state and federal officials, have begun an effort to place experienced hospitality workers from Puerto Rico into the Massachusetts workforce.

Mr. Luz, in an open letter to business owners in the Massachusetts hospitality industry, said the effort has a humanitarian aspect, as well as a business aspect.

“We ask, Why not do this now and benefit from an experienced workforce in the meantime, while lending a helping hand to families unable to help themselves when they need it most?” he said. “The devastation is so complete that much more must be done.”

Although the busy season is six months away, the program could be a win-win for Cape and Islands businesses. Hospitality is the No. 1 industry in Puerto Rico, and there is an abundance of seasoned employees who are available to bolster the shallow labor pool.

“Throughout Massachusetts, we have thousands of jobs unfilled despite our most aggressive recruitment efforts, good wages, and excellent working conditions,” he said. “Why not reach out to these communities and let them know we have jobs and would welcome them to our communities?”
The first step is to accumulate data from employers on how many jobs they need to fill. To that end, he asks employers to fill out a survey, complete a form that best applies to their business, and return it to him at

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce executive Nancy Gardella said the initial response of Island employers has been positive.

“Our available workforce cannot fill the demand,” she said. “I think there’s a number of people that hope to hire American workers, and that would be the case here. They understand American culture, they’re seasoned professionals, and they’re adults, so they’d stay through August.”

Ms. Gardella said the main objective right now is to gauge the number of jobs Massachusetts can offer, and she encourages Vineyard business owners to weigh in on the survey.


  1. Will these workers speak English? Painting the hospitality industry with a broad brush doesn’t usually work on Martha’s Vineyard just because you can clean a room in Puerto Rico or Boston doesn’t mean that individual will fit the employment profile for Martha’s Vineyard. This is why the students from Eastern Europe work so well, they are educated, speak English and have common cultural skills. Hospitality workers must be smart as well as have a good work ethic. It is not as simple as this article would have you think.

    • I always have to chuckle when a native English speaker cannot write a proper sentence, yet complains that hard working Spanish speakers are not educated enough for his tastes.

    • Also, most Puerto Rican people speak some English, and many are fluent. How many languages do you speak, Oldguy? Based on your atrocious grammar, I’d guess you barely get by on one.

  2. The above is yet another call for the importing of foreign workers into the local economy, billed as a “win-win” for local business. But ignored is the more relevant question of what is a “win” for the local populace as a whole. As an islander, ask yourself the question: do I benefit from the influx of foreign workers who come here every summer to work for wages that cannot support a living on this island? The foreign workers leave at the end of the season and go elsewhere. They come from places where it is cheap to live but employment is scarce. The hospitality industry takes advantage of their predicament and imports them seasonally at wages which appear generous to them but which are paltry by Vineyard standards and requirements. Meanwhile the hospitality industry here displaces other business, largely as a result of decades of anti commercial legislation bias, to which the local electorate has subscribed or submitted, without really thinking it thru. Sure, the summer people love the arrangement, as do the owners of hospitality; but the people who live here year round, and have the votes and hence the ability to effect change should see things differently, and take action in their own best interests.

    • So, you are against Capitalism.
      The “”populace” doesn’t have a dog in this fight unless of course just the sight of a foreign worker rubs the Populace the wrong way
      This would be the only way you would be personally affected by businesses hiring people willing to work.
      Don’t forget the Island kids believe working for the wages offered is beneath them and hell, they would rather enjoy their friends and doing nothing in the summer anyway.
      Parents, are you reading this?
      And don’t forget, this is Trump’s way of doing business so it must be OK with everyone who voted him in.

      TRUTH OUT.

      • Rarely have I read such inability/unwillingness to address an issue. The people of this island certainly have a “dog in the fight” for economic fair play and justice. Try to think without using the words “Trump” and “bigot”.

      • Foreign summer help is an ingredient, Trump a symptom, how parents raise children a distraction. What will happen if foreign summer help is lost? Does the summer industry raise prices? Do restaurants? Can their profit margins sustain or do they close? Should residents concern about the future of the Island? Should the wisdom of unfettered capitalism be questioned?

        • Good questions – perhaps the beginning of useful discussion. Let’s change your second to last question to, “should residents be concerned about the future of the IslandERS, and our young people in particular?”.

    • Apologies, accidently posted this as a response to OldMan.

      What commercial development is the hospitality industry displacing? Please remember that Island economics tend to be seasonal.

    • The OP supports job placement for experienced people in the hospitality industry. Would you rather a privileged but inexperienced kid dump a bowl of soup in your lap?

  3. It’s about business, it amazes me how many people jump to conclusions and always manage to put Trump in conversation. The point of my comment is: The island work force requires skills and education not just bodies. I would add that the country as a whole is lacking in providing the proper education, attacking progress with political correctness only retards innovation. The workforce is no longer just simple math of one job equals one body. If we can not have these conversations without it devolving into accusations we are doomed to repeat past mistakes.

    • Oh Lord. I know lots of Puerto Ricans who know how to take a drink order and to put French fries with the burger, and/or how to make a bed; and yes, it IS about business.
      That’s the point.
      This country lacks the ability to offer educational requirements for THAT ?
      For real…

    • Good observation, and call for clarification. For purposes of this discussion “foreign” means “non-island”. My point is that seasonal workers, and hospitality workers in particular, are a symptom of a larger economic problem that the voters/populace of the island could influence.

  4. The island businesses need workers, plain and simple. The kids and young adults these days can’t be bothered having a summer job (or 2 or 3 as I have had each summer) they are content to ask mom and dad for money when then need it and work as little as possible in order to enjoy themselves. This is a terrible mindset that has been building for years and years. All it takes is a group of people to take advantage of the employment opportunities this island has to offer. This is why the Brazillian community has taken over the island. It is not lack of jobs but the willingness to work. Oh…. and the lack of affordable housing. The only thing you have to explain is how you can come from another country, live and work on the island for numerous years and not know how to speak English

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