Department of Labor Scrutinized by NMI Lawmakers

August 8, 2008

A letter from Representatives Edward Salas and Tina Sablan of the House Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Labor and Immigration Issues, questions policy and practices of the CNMI Department of Labor. Many of the points brought up by the committee mirror the same points I brought up in a May 2008 letter I sent to Director San Nicolas and Barry Hirshblein. I sent the letter by email and also by return receipt certified mail. The letter went unanswered. Hopefully, they will respond to the CNMI legislators who are requesting a response within ten days.

The Saipan Tribune reports:
The letter, sent to Labor Secretary Gil San Nicolas, addresses a host of issues related to the department's regulation of the CNMI's workforce, airing concerns over whether its procedures abide by due process rules, the status of foreign workers whose children have disabilities and problems linked to unpaid administrative orders, among other topics.

Key among those concerns are the contents of an April memorandum Kaipat penned and a letter she sent to the editor of the Saipan Tribune that the House lawmakers say “indicate a strong prevailing bias against foreign national workers.”
The unanswered letter I sent in May addressed problems with Deputy Secretary of Labor, Cinta Kaipat making public hostile and racist generalizations and comments against guest workers, unpaid judgments, workers with pending labor cases being repatriated, bias and hostile attacks on the integrity of the guest workers, non-enforcement of administrative orders by DOL, no accountability or consequences for offending employers, the denial of due process for employees, unjustified attacks on the federal ombudsman office, asking the workers to collect their own judgments through small claims court, appeals being heard by the same person who issued the orders, and the legality of an unpaid volunteer working at DOL making decisions and overseeing hearings. In Cinta Kaipat's open letter to the editor addressed to me her final statement was, "If you have further questions or comments, please let us know." I did, but my questions and comments were ignored!  Congratulations to Representative Salas and Sablan for addressing these important issues.

See this post for more information.