Interim Labor Progress Report #8

April 6, 2009


Here is DOL's Interim Progress Report #8, another update on the CNMI labor situation by the author of PL 15-108. 

Deputy Secretary Kaipat alleges that more U.S. citizens are being hired.  This is good news for the local population, if it is true.  I say if it is true because several people have commented that businesses "hire" U.S. citizens only to meet minimum percent regulations set by DOL.  It has been reported that some of the U.S. citizens actually are hired only on paper and are paid a small amount monthly. Here's a comment from a previous post:
Many employers pay locals 100. per month to show as their employee so they can meet the minimum guidelines. The same is true for so many aliens operating businesses under, or with a locals/US citizens name on the company.
Kaipat states that since October 2008 DOL has processed transfer requests for 625 foreign workers who were displaced in their jobs by U.S. citizen hires.  It would be interesting to see if the above comment applies to any of these hires.

Kaipat alleges that 16,000 workers were repatriated from 2006 -2008. She fails to state how many have been hired during the same period.  

The report states that DOL is addressing issues of insolvent or unqualified employers "who lack the necessary resources to pay their foreign workers, who may not be providing a real job, or who are otherwise unqualified.  This can only help in reducing the number of cheated workers and improving the system overall.  However, it is a little too late for thousands of workers who have been cheated by employers while DOL refused to assist in collecting judgments that they issued.

Kaipat states that transfers are given to displaced foreign workers when U.S. citizen workers are hired because if they did not  "we would have less success in getting foreign workers to train their U.S. citizen successors."  While, I am certain there are qualified U.S. citizens to replace some of the foreign workers, there has been controversy over hiring some with no experience or qualifications for the jobs.  Oh, the stories from the foreign workers on training U.S. citizens "successors" in positions for which they do not qualify!  One former cook said his "successor" never cooked in his life.  

To their credit, Kaipat claims that DOL issues transfer extensions to skilled workers whose employers need more time to get paperwork processed, or to  foreign workers in "hardship" cases such as if a foreign parent would have to take their children out of school.

Kaipat claims that under "this administration we have had very, very few defaults on bonds. Numbers please?  She continues with the standard DOL tactic of attempting to compare the CNMI to the U.S., of course without data to back claims.  She states the recession in the CNMI has existed since 2005 (Didn't this administration claim that the federalization proposal was responsible for the CNMI's economic hardships?  Timetable?) The Superior Court ruled that past bonding defaults must be treated under the old Nonresident Worker Act and Kaipat says she'll address that subject in a few weeks. 

Kaipat reports that DOL staff has been cut from 86 in 2006 to 46 in 2008. She claims that stimulus money could be used for employment?  The federal government should certainly tie some strict oversight to this proposal.  Is the DOL "volunteer" still volunteering at DOL, or is she too busy in Washington, DC with the anti-federalization lawsuit? 

Kaipat spoke about the lawsuit and the 180 day delay saying:
Now that we have the 180-day extension in hand, there is less urgency about any transition with respect to labor matters, and we can await the outcome of the federalization lawsuit without employers and workers having to adjust their affairs in the interim. However, we have been meeting regularly with the federal authorities since last fall (and Lynn Knight continues to meet with them now) to explain exactly what we are doing, how we are making decisions, and why our procedures are working effectively. I believe we have good lines of communication and that the federal authorities have much better and more current information about our activities than has been the case in past years.
Whatever the federal regulations look like, they should reflect a democratic process and be just for all parties. Not all of the current CNMI regulations are not suitable for a federal and democratic system. The administration looks at past unsettled claims and judgments as "too bad." Cheated guest workers deserve to be made whole; they deserve back wages and judgments to be honored.  DOL looks the other way in this regard.  All DOL regulations and administrative orders need to be enforced justly.

The federal officials drafting regulations should seek input from past ombudsmen, attorneys who represent the guest workers, U.S. Department of Labor officials who have done work in the CNMI, U.S. assistant attorneys who have filed cases against CNMI employers, the non-resident workers, and worker advocates to get a balanced picture and understand the negative aspects of the CNMI system that need to be corrected. 

Kaipat also claimed that the DOL wants to work with the legislation, yet when legislators make requests they are ignored! Or selective bits of the request are answered and not all of the requests. 

Ms. Kaipat did not mention document fraud in her report, but an article in today's Marianas Variety reported that Governor Fitial commuted the 90 day jail sentence of fellow Covenant Party member Teresita Deleon Guerrero who was convicted of a conspiracy in submitting fraudulent documents to the Department of Labor. Her husband, Lorenzo was a former DOL employee who was also convicted along with six other individuals. Deleon Guerrero spent one day in jail according to the article. Interesting that cheated guest workers are unable to collect judgments from crooked employers and there is no comment from the governor's office, and yet he hands a criminal a "get out of jail free" card.

Photo from Marianas Variety

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I only have 2 requests for Homeland Security, and that is that they fire Cinta Kapait and free labor consultant Deanne Siemer.

the teacher said...

A more interesting statistic might be how many locals have moved to the mainland US because of the labor system created here left them unable to compete with the status quo of servitude and shame inflicted on the decent local people here.

Anonymous said...

To add on the the above comment on "how many locals moved to the mainland US because...." How many took an early SS retirement to outside of the US, from the NMI etc because of the DOL, and are waiting for the Guam "Push" to come back to work.

Anonymous said...

Her picture depicts that he is a blonde lady? Fake American!