Comptroller Fran­chot tours seafood busi­ness

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WINGATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

CAM­BRIDGE — Comptroller Peter Fran­chot trav­elled to Fish­ing Creek’s A.E. Phillips and Sons Seafood to take a tour of the fa­cil­ity and present a procla­ma­tion on Mon­day, July 31.

Gen­eral Man­ager Mor­gan Tol­ley led the tour, joined by com­pany CEO Steve Phillips, Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Tal­bot, Regis­ter of Wills Doris Lewis, and Dorch­ester County Or­phan Court Judge Calvin Travers.

Fran­chot and guests were given a brief les­son on blue crab anatomy and meth­ods used to catch them, met a crab fish­er­man bring­ing in the day’s catch to sell right from his boat, vis­ited the pick­ing house where sea­soned em­ploy­ees picked apart a crab in the blink of an eye, and heard the story of the com­pany from founder Phillips him­self.

A hot topic of dis­cus­sion in the pick­ing house was the is­sue of the H2B visa pro­gram, a pro­gram on which the crab-pick­ing in­dus­try re­lies upon. The num­ber of visas avail­able has been cut in the last sev­eral years to de­crease for­eign com­pe­ti­tion for Amer­i­can jobs, but Tol­ley and Phillips stress that Amer­i­cans refuse to per­form jobs such as pick­ing crabs.

“These po­si­tions are ad­ver­tised lo­cally, and they can’t fill them lo­cally,” said Mautz. “If we can’t get those H2B work­ers, we’re in big trou­ble.”

Tol­ley said he ad­ver­tises lo­cally on­line and in print, and no one even views the ap­pli­ca­tion on­line, much less ap­plies.

“There’s 2.3 mil­lion Amer­i­can jobs for ev­ery one of these men and women that come here,” said Tol­ley. “Think about your truck driv­ers, of­fice per­son­nel, re­frig­er­a­tion, box com­pa­nies, ice mak­ers, baiters, car­pen­ter, elec­tri­cian, and wa­ter­men. It’s what I keep say­ing ev­ery spring when we’re go­ing through get­ting visas, I look at the wa­ter­men and say, ‘If I don’t get crab pick­ers, where are you go­ing to sell your crabs?’”

Phillips said some of the em­ploy­ees that come to work in the pick­ing and pack­ing fa­cil­ity have been work­ing sea­son­ally for the com­pany for 15 to 20 years. He said the com­pany can’t get even one Amer­i­can to do the job of pick­ing and pro­cess­ing crabs.

Fran­chot lis­tened to their con­cerns, and it will re­main to be seen if, with the help of Mautz and Gov­er­nor Larry Ho­gan, the H2B visa sit­u­a­tion can be im­proved upon.

To con­clude the visit, Fran­chot pre­sented a procla­ma­tion to Phillips and com­pany COO John Knorr for A.E. Phillips and Sons many years of suc­cess­ful busi­ness and their con­tri­bu­tion to the Mary­land econ­omy.

PHOTO BY VIC­TO­RIA WINGATE

Comptroller Peter Fran­chot presents A.E. Phillips and Sons Seafood CEO Steve Phillips with a procla­ma­tion Mon­day, July 31, rec­og­niz­ing his fam­ily and busi­ness for their con­tri­bu­tion to Mary­land’s econ­omy.

Comptroller Peter Fran­chot presents Fish­ing Creek’s A.E. Phillips and Sons Seafood CEO Steve Phillips with a procla­ma­tion Mon­day, July 31, rec­og­niz­ing his fam­ily and busi­ness for their con­tri­bu­tion to Mary­land’s econ­omy.

PHO­TOS BY VIC­TO­RIA WINGATE

CEO Steve Phillips, left, talks with Comptroller Peter Fran­chot about re­search he con­ducted on crab life cy­cles in Asia, re­search that changed our knowl­edge of lo­cal crab species as well.

A.E. Phillips and Sons Seafood Gen­eral Man­ager Mor­gan Tol­ley, left, walks Comptroller Peter Fran­chot and guests through how a crab pot is de­signed to catch the fish­er­man’s de­sired prey.

Gen­eral Man­ager Mor­gan Tol­ley walks Comptroller Peter Fran­chot and guests through a bit of a blue crab anatomy les­son.

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