Guam Mirrors the CNMI's Shame

Photo of Chinese worker in unfinished barracks, from Pacific Daily News, Guam 2009

May 31, 2009

In the 1990's I met with and interviewed hundreds of foreign contract workers who were illegally recruited to Saipan and found themselves without jobs, places to live and food. Others who actually had employers lived in squalid conditions in rundown barracks and were routinely cheated of their wages. You can read about their conditions in this 1998 report.

Who could have imagined that similar labor abuses would be repeated in Guam 11 years later? I could have. Why? Because any guest worker program that imports foreign labor and fails to offer a pathway to citizenship, promotes the notion that the foreign workers are replaceable commodities. In such programs they are typically not treated with the same respect and dignity afforded to "local citizen" workers. You can see that in the tomato fields in Florida, in the meat packing houses in Arkansas, in construction sites on Guam, and in clubs and other job sites in the CNMI.

To clarify, when I speak of a pathway to citizenship, I mean a pathway to U.S. citizenship (and all the rights that accompany such status) for long-term foreign workers hired through guest worker programs on U.S. soil. I am not referring to some concocted local permanent status plan to be thrown as a bone to the foreign workers to convince the federal government not to replace their local program and not to grant U.S. citizenship to long-term foreign workers. Such a plan, probably not even legal under U.S. law, only would serve to continue to keep the foreign workers indentured by imprisoning them in a confined locality, restricting their movement, and controlling their freedom and rights. It is rumored that such a plan is being discussed in Saipan right now.

Why should we not be surprised that this happened on Guam? Because any guest worker program that suppresses a free labor market encourages the exploitation of the foreign contract workers.

Recently, a hideous case of labor abuse was brought to light in Guam. About 40 men contracted from China were discovered to be living in unsafe barracks and they are owed wages going back as far as two years.

From the Pacific Daily News:
A local contractor that allegedly didn't pay its immigrant workers, kept them in the country longer than allowed, and faked documents and plane tickets to cover it up can no longer operate on Guam. The board suspended the license of Hua Sheng International Group Corp. and Responsible Management Employee Steven Wang yesterday, according to a press release from the Guam Contractors Licensing Board.

Wang and his company acted unethically by submitting fabricated documents that suggested a group of Chinese workers had left the island when they really stayed, the release said. Moreover, the company has not paid $63,000 in civil penalties it owes to the Department of Labor, the release stated.

"Not one single payment has been made to the Department of Labor addressing this civil penalty," the release said.

On April 7, more than 20 disgruntled Hua Sheng H-2 workers marched from their barracks in Yigo to the Guam Department of Labor office in Hagåtña to file a complaint saying they weren't being paid.

About two weeks later, the Department of Labor wrote a letter to the company that said the agency believed the back wages were owed to the workers.

The letter also said the workers must go back to China, since a petition to extend their H-2 status was denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
The cheated workers "must go back to China" where they will let everyone know what a hell-hole the United States was for them, how the U.S. has weak enforcement of laws, and how, as foreign contract workers, they were treated very poorly. Two years and no one knew they were being cheated? Shame on Guam and shame on the U.S. for allowing such systems to exist.

Here is a description of their barracks :
Buildings are made of plywood, tin and concrete blocks. No doors separate the inside from the outside. Extension cords run through weeds from another building to provide electricity.

At night, the man sleeps under a mosquito net because his window has no screen. He showers in cold water that comes from a bare spout emerging from the wall. He has worn the same clothes for three days because he has to wash clothes by hand.

Life was difficult back home in China, but he and the 40 other workers living in the compound said they didn't expect that their search for better-paying jobs on Guam would put them in these kinds of conditions.

The more than 40 men have lived in the makeshift worker barracks for about six months. They said they refuse to leave Guam until they receive what they said are unpaid wages totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Saipan barracks 1998, photo by W. L. Doromal ©1998

Guam barracks 2009, photo by Pacific Daily News

And here is what the Chinese workers had to say:
The workers asked not to be identified because they feared retaliation against themselves and their families in China. Maneuvering around buckets placed on the floor to catch rain that leaked through the roof, they gathered recently in a room of the compound to talk about their conditions.

"We never thought it would be like this," one worker said through a translator. "The U.S. is a free country -- they have rights here."

The man said he was brought from Nantong, on the banks of China's Yangtze River, a year-and-a-half ago to work for local construction company Hua Sheng International Corp. Now, he just wants to be paid and go home...
..."We came here legally," one worker said. "Why should we go back as criminals?"

"Everybody here is waiting to get paid," a worker said, gesturing around the group of men. He said their families -- all said they have wives and children in China -- are waiting for the money.

Going back empty-handed would be shameful, he said.
Indeed, why should they return to China in shame? They feared retaliation? I must have heard that statement over 100 times. "The U.S. is a free country --they have rights here," one worker said. Why do our U.S. guest worker programs allow for the rights of foreign workers to be trampled? How many foreign workers have returned to their homelands shamed, disillusioned, and with less money then what they had before they paid recruitment fees?

Did these forty men get their money? From the PDN:
On April 7, dozens of the workers marched 12 miles -- from their barracks off Wusstig Road to the Guam Department of Labor's offices in Hagåtña -- to complain. Authorities have ordered the company to pay, but the workers said they are still waiting for the money.

One of the workers said when he and his co-workers were at the Labor Department recently, Wang waited by the department's door and gave them checks -- checks that bounced when they tried to cash them.

The worker said he was still waiting for more than $14,000 for more than two years of work for Hua Sheng.

Both the federal and local Labor authorities, as well as other agencies, continue to work on the case, agency representatives said recently.

Hua Sheng has no valid permits for worker dormitories, said Tom Nadeau, environmental health administrator for the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

Greg Massey, administrator for Guam Labor's Alien Labor Processing and Certification Division, said he couldn't comment on his open investigation into this case, but he said he hasn't seen a situation as bad as this in more than 10 years.

Guam living quarters 2009, photo by the Pacific Daily News

Saipan living quarters 1998, photo by W. L. Doromal ©1998

One would have hoped that Guam had learned a lesson from its neighbors to the north. Apparently not. What are some of the problems with the local CNMI labor system, and perhaps with Guam's?
  • Too little oversight and coordination between the local and federal agencies tasked with enforcing regulations.
  • Not enough staff to conduct routine scheduled and unscheduled inspections of workplaces and barracks.
  • Fear of retaliation for speaking out.
  • Lack of translators in local offices.
  • Lack of coordination between home and host countries in setting standardized regulations for recruitment and recruitment fees.
  • Local administration of labor programs in places where nepotism and strong family ties interfere with enforcement and regulations. Corruption.
  • Lack of consistent application of regulations and policies, which results in denial of due process for abused foreign contract workers.
  • No jail time or real consequences for the worst labor abusers (except perhaps in cases of human trafficking). Lack of teeth in local laws.
  • Refusal of local system and government to adequately assist victims and cheated workers in getting unpaid judgments and justice from abusive employers.
  • Shift of responsibility and blame from agency to agency and department to department.
  • Deportation of foreign contract workers before they receive their pay or unpaid judgments.
  • No required exit surveys of all foreign nationals to determine if they are owed any back wages or were otherwise cheated on U.S. soil.
  • Lack of adequate local and federal funds.
  • Local system's denial of abuses and problems; presenting the local program to the federal government as being something it is not.
  • No pathway to U.S. citizenship for long-term foreign contract workers.
The PDN quoted Mary Bauer from the Southern Law Poverty Center who noted that the system is what promotes abuses:
Cases of abuse happen across the country, said Mary Bauer, director of the Immigrant Justice Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala. The civil rights organization currently represents stateside temporary foreign workers in eight class-action lawsuits.

Bauer testified to Congress last month that major changes to the federal program for temporary foreign workers are needed.

"Guest workers are systematically exploited because the very structure of the program places them at the mercy of a single employer," she said. "It provides no realistic means for workers to exercise the few rights they have."
Will Guam be able to handle 15,000 or more H-2 workers expected to enter the island to work on the military build-up? It's doubtful. Not unless they take immediate steps to identify flaws within the program, hire and train adequate staff, and work with the federal government (and even advocates) to make a plan to ensure that foreign contract workers who are invited to Guam to work will be respected and protected. Should Guam, the CNMI, or any other U.S. territory or state have local control over federal H-2 workers? I say no. There should be one consistent regulatory policy for the mainland and all territories. Every U.S. guest worker program should reflect just and democratic principles. The time for comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue.

Guam barracks 2009, photo by Pacific Daily News

Saipan Barracks 1998, photo by W. L. Doromal ©1998


Saipan Writer said...

I'm interested to know who is the Steven Wang mentioned? That seems to be a popular name--Google comes up with everything from doctors to State Farm agents, dancers to computer tech consultants.

I hope it has nothing to do with the Steven who runs China House in Saipan.

The Saipan Blogger said...

There are many Chamorros who live in houses like that, too.

the teacher said...

Guam is no different than Puerto Rico, New York, and Ohio in that respect. Companies do whatever they can get away with, both here, and there. Thinking that workers issues ended with federalization was illogical.

Federalization and the gradually increasing minimum wage will help workers and the community over time. An immediate impact here would require CGWs and locals in the private sector to unite.
If the insular areas were more closely connected by air, a cohesive immigration plan may help each area. A stable workforce could be possible, a reduction in foreign labor would result through better utilization of citizens in each region, and investment markets would be opened to a wider number of potential investors.

We can’t justify adding alien workers to one region while US citizens are unemployed in another. Perhaps that’s where my view veers from the Saipan Chamber of Commerce picture of the Northern Marianas Islands of the future.

the teacher said...

PS Angelo's comment above is correct. Locals here have endured terrible poverty and inadaqute housing.

The idea of our labor/immigration adding employees during this period seems criminal to me.

captain said...

If I am not mistaken Guam got an exemption to handle their own labor and immigration concerning the "H" workers. This would probably be one of the contributing reasons this happened,(you might be able to check this) and the question is how many other companies on Guam are like this at this time.

Is it only the Chinese or do the Filipino have the same problem?

The Chinese "H" visa's will not be renewed and no new one will be allowed entry any way into US.
(Maybe this is an example of recent decision to not allow them)

I respectfully do not agree with you view on every worker brought into the US should be brought in with a road to US citizenship.

Do you exspect that 15-25K workers brought in for the Military buildup should become US citizens upon work contract completion.

The "seasonal" workers brought in on the mainland should they also be US Cit.

The Temp. workers brought in to build the new casino's on Tinian (possibly Rota also) should also become US cit.

Construction has always produced "construction bums".
In the US there is a big group of US Cit. from all over that follow construction projects nationwide. Many have RV and go from contract to contract.

Many other(like me)have followed projects across the globe and all eventually return to their home in between projects or for long breaks in between.
The same goes with farming during planting season and then again during the harvesting season.

How would Guam absorb that many NEW US citizen workers after the buildup.
How would Tinian absorb 1800 new citizen workers after the New Casino under construction (now on hold)plus maybe 2 time more for the other Casino's on the planning board.

How can Tinian absorb the present of the approx. 3000 contract workers on Tinian now, as US cit.

Many companies in the US mainland would take their business overseas (or shut down) if they had to retain their contract workers year round.(like resorts, manufacturing etc)
Anyway the rest of your points are well taken, the problem is Guam can't handle 40 workers and they think that with a total of ten new labor officers they can handle 15K or more "H" workers along with the US workers?
Guam also needs Tagalog, and presently Chinese interpreters.
(So does NMI)

Anonymous said...

Guam does not need to import 15,000 foreign workers for the military build up. What's wrong with U.S. citizens?

Wendy said...


I don't expect 15,000 workers that go to Guam to ever become "long-term" workers, as many in the CNMI have become, having been continually renewed. They will be hired for a specific short-term project. I expect that they will come in for the period of time that they are needed and leave. However, if they are renewed after five years or more then yes, I believe they should be qualified to get green cards.

And for however long the guest workers are in Guam, or in the mainland, or CNMI they deserve to be treated right and paid fairly.

i am sure the housing (barracks) of the Chinese was not in compliance with OSHA regulations, and if not under OSHA rules, then in compliance with building codes.

Anonymous said...

I agree that every long-term guest workers deserves a pathway to citizenship. After 5 years, they are already established in the community.

to captain said...

No one needs to "retain their contract workers" year after year. If the foreign workers are needed and are renewed for say 5 years, then they should earn permanent status so that they would be free to work for another employer or maybe other employers.

Anonymous said...

The majority of Korean and Chinese investors on Saipan will not invest any more than they can walkaway from and not feel like they "lost" anything. Just the facts of life on Saipan. The local government just keeps letting them do it. Classic ugly examples are the concrete Prince Hotel next to the airport and the La Mode unfinished garment factory in As Lito. Compilance with OSHA and building safety codes (with the exception of Japan) is just not part of the Asian culture, however paying off building inspectors is. I always crackup and laugh at the warning poster in the Saipan Zoning Office warning investors and developers of the "severe" consequences of bribing gov officials. Ohbladee Ohbladah.

Anonymous said...

"Buildings are made of plywood, tin and concrete blocks. No doors separate the inside from the outside. Extension cords run through weeds from another building to provide electricity."

No, the buildings could not have passed code or OSHA regulations. What agency in Guam inspected the buildings before the workers moved in? Someone should check this out and hold the agency accountable. Did the Guam Department of Labor approve these buildings?

Anonymous said...

Federal officials need to inspect all of the buildings that will house the H-2 workers that will go to Guam BEFORE they put the workers in them.

Corruption with building inspectors? Why not. There is corruption with most other offices.

pacific osha said...

If federal immigration control does not prevent this sort of thing from happening, then what can the justification possibly be for CNMI federalization?

Wendy said...

To Captain

One more thing! You're correct, Guam has control of their H-2 visa program. From the Pacific Daily News:

"Guam is the only place in the country federally authorized to manage its own H-2 program -- everywhere else in the country, the work is done by federal agencies, primarily Immigration, Massey said.

He said Guam was given this authority in the early 1980s, after the Guam government lobbied for local control since officials here would have a better understanding of the isolated island economy than someone in the U.S. mainland would.

In 1991 and 1992, the island had close to 200 labor camps and 5,000 foreign contract workers, according to Pacific Daily News files. So many of these camps -- about 180 of them at one point -- lacked certification that then-Gov. Joe Ada came close to losing his ability to certify Guam requests for temporary foreign labor, Pacific Daily News files state."

Anonymous said...

pacific osha: CNMI federalization will put federal agencies and officials on the ground in the CNMI. Right now we have an understaffed US Department of Labor and other understaffed and under-funded federal offices.

Maybe Guam should not have local control of their H-2 visa program either.

Anonymous said...

"Do you exspect that 15-25K workers brought in for the Military buildup should become US citizens upon work contract completion."

I think they should require that all jobs be filled with US citizens. My god we are building US military bases at a time when our countries unemployment is at an all time high and we are experiencing enormous economic difficulties and they want to fill 15K jobs with foreign workers? It is a 12 billion dollar buildup. Pay decent wages and employ our own. My god what is this country coming to?

Anonymous said...

Conditions in China, PI and Bangladesh are a hundred times worse. I'm saying that it's ok, but you need to look at the big picture. If you want to stop all labor abuses, stop bringing in all guest workers to the US. There are many Americans in the US who live under the same conditions, what about them Wendy?

Anonymous said...

"CNMI federalization will put federal agencies and officials on the ground in the CNMI. Right now we have an understaffed US Department of Labor and other understaffed and under-funded federal offices."

Federalization will not put OSHA, EEOC, or DOL enforcement officials in the CNMI. They could have been here already! That is the problem. Federalization was sold to Congress under false pretenses. With respect to the CNMI, the feds have been, and are still, trying to run law enforcement on the cheap.

The only people we are getting directly from federalization is DHS employees: CBP, USICE, and USCIS. Anyone else who shows up, and the more the merrier, would not be the consequence of Pub. L. 110-229.

captain said...

Wendy, It looks like I miss read or did not understand your statements about guest workers becoming US Cit.

Yes after 5 years, not unlike Hawaii and other places, they would be eligible for a status.
I believe that is why under the visa worker program, workers will not be renewed to 5 years without having to depart and then return.

On the comments about many US workers available because of the conditions in the US, that is correct.
I truly believe that there will be much more coming than the original estimated 5000 from the Mainland.

If there is a wide advertisement put out in the US it will happen. There should be a notice to all of the Labor Dept around the country so that the ones on unemployment benefits would be aware and have a lists of company contacts and referrals.
The big companies that do business with DOD I am sure will be recruiting around the nation. I am also pretty sure it will be "bachelor quarters" assignment except for management.

The wages are high already for DOD projects. The same pay for "Visa" workers or US.

I believe somewhere it was stated that the Chinese company did not have any permits for the "barracks"
So the construction was totally undercover.
I wonder who owns the land?
Also why has this owner and manager not been arrested for falsifying documents among other things.Looks like there are Federal along with local laws that have been broken.
I hope they got his passport because he may take off.

The Feds have to take this "local" control" away from Govguam as I can perceive many more abuses in the future with the Korean companies that are already there along with other companies that may spring up or hire from outside.

This is a good example of why Immigration and DOL (except for Local) should be handled by the Feds in the NMI.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:06

Yes, the EEOC, OSHA, NLRB, and other branches of federal labor agencies could have and should have been assigned to the CNMI (or to the CNMI-Guam), especially since the abuses have been so hideous and unrelenting over the years. Since 1991 I formally requested more DOL and DOJ funding for federal enforcement agencies and to establish adequately staffed offices in the CNMI. The federal ombudsman's office was a big step in curbing and monitoring abuses and they coordinate with EEOC, NLRB, and other federal agencies. The OIA should fund the ombudsman's office so at least two other attorneys could be hired to represent the foreign workers with labor cases.

If you read the intent of PL 110-229, you will understand the reasons for the law. They are all valid and it is not true that " Federalization was sold to Congress under false pretenses."

Wendy said...

Anonymous 12:10

In other countries there are bad living and working conditions, so we should allow them in the U.S.? That is not a valid argument.

Yes, there are terrible conditions all over the world! Am I talking about that in this post? Are Bangladesh, China and the Philippines U.S. territories?

No building inspector in the mainland would allow people to live in the buildings that were described by the PDN. We have building codes and enforcement here. Yes, there are terrible conditions in the U.S. However, in the U.S. citizens are free to leave, free to find new or additional employers, and are not indentured and restricted to one living quarters.

"If you want to stop all the labor abuses, stop brining guest workers into the US." One way to stop labor abuses is by having real enforcement: Prison time for the most serious offenders, banning abusers from ever hiring another foreign worker, large fines with rules that allow for the seizure of property and assets to pay, and restitution for victims.

Anonymous said...

OSHA is very weak out in this area of the world Wendy. There will always be some sort of foreign workers' suffering from poor living conditions here and in the Mainland. Not all foreign labor , guest workers live in poor conditions however. A lot live in bunk style conditions, etc. You make it seem that all of these workers are abused children and their masters whip them hourly. This is far from reality. You post a few pictures of shanty conditions online hoping to garner sympathy. There are Americans living in poor conditions all across the United States we need to focus on their plight and their suffering.

Noni@6:39am said...

Noni @1:19 am....
Wow, the first signs of common sense intelligence on this blog.

Eye on the CNMI said...

Lynn Knight, Ben Fitial, Baka, Wideman, Willens, Siemers, Kaipat, Jim Arenoski, Dick Pierce are all in Willie Tan's pocket and/or they gleen off the system he set in action here.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:19

"There will always be some sort of foreign workers' suffering from poor living conditions here and in the Mainland" I wonder if people in the 1850's said, There will always be slavery." Maybe if enough people refuse to accept poor living conditions, the problem could be solved or at least lessened. Should we accept that 40 men were put in a barracks with no doors, no screens on windows, leaks in the roof, and wires running from building top building? That type of problem absolutely could be solved with inspections from code enforcement, OSHA and Guam DOL!

I did not say that people were being whipped. In fact I quoted the paper.

The pictures are comparing the conditions from 1998 to those in Guam today.

I focus on the plight of the poor in America also. This post was not about the poor in America.

Anonymous said...

The problems associated with poor living conditions for foreign labor does not begin in the United States. It begins in their host countries whose biggest export are human beings. Your beloved Philippines for example is one of the biggest culprits of the 'slave trade' so to speak. Filipinos selling other Filipinos to overseas employers. China, Russia, India all do it. Send them back home and let them start fixing their own labor problems. That is where change needs to begin. You see if they travel to the United States as a contract worker, they are contract workers Wendy. If they boarded an airplane with the notion that the US will take them in and make them citizens, they are wrong to assume that. Change needs to take place at the root cause - THEIR OWN COUNTRIES. Until then someone, somewhere will still be sharing a bathroom with 30 other guest workers.

the teacher said...

Chamberonomics 107…workers here and there

PI is among the world's worst violators of labor, child labor, civil, and human rights, a complete disgrace to the civilized world and no nation to model a country after.

They moderately educate children to create laborers, so their future adults are ill equipped to confront societal issues, participate in high ranking administration, and far too weak to rise up against tyranny in their own nation. Subservience, obedience, and conformity are primary goals for school. Their number one export is people. Their main church doesn’t condone planned parenting. Overpopulation is increasing the government’s gross domestic product, or, they are growing people to export. Destitute families encourage their talented children to work abroad and then coerce them with guilt and pity to remit money home for support. When people survive on charity, they become entirely dependent on handouts, thereby becoming unable to survive or feed themselves. No country rivals the Philippines distinction and reputation in this area, and apparently the government supports this unconscionable economic model.

Though sympathetic to the plight of impoverished or abused people in all lands, doesn’t make us want unemployed alien workers residing here. Half our populace remitting money from the NMI abroad has been a detestable economic model for the CNMI. Our tiny island home can’t feed large overpopulated nations.

Little children beg for coins in traffic on every Manila road. If I were a Philippine national, I would write to Her Excellency, and I would ask her to stop it and charge her with getting those kids off the road, as it is the most disgraceful thing I have ever witnessed. Would it not be better to make those children wards of the state and see that they are well fed, properly housed, and offered the finest in educational opportunity? Protected children may grow to be the pride of the Philippines instead of the shame. Fear is a convenient excuse, but the most dangerous threat to freedom and democracy there is not corrupt governance; it is that over 50 million good people will do nothing.

The intent of the federalization law was to end NMI dependence on foreign labor and open opportunity to US citizens here. One concern here is that the CNMI is looking more like PI every day, and looking at our poverty, the tin shacks, and unemployed laborers on an island with no industry, does make us look a bit like an outer, or far eastern PI island. Sadly, our governance is also strikingly similar.

To insure the NMI does not move that direction, the Governor should support improving the status of longtime legal contract guest workers here, so that they may freely move abroad. This would open employment for generations of local youth who were unimaginably screwed by the status quo system of servitude advanced here. If the Governor did that, he may have a lasting legacy, and perhaps even become a defender of our impoverished indigenous youth, instead of a corporate puppet who supported them. The US would support the Governor on this subject, as America owes restitution to foreign born veterans of this broken, corrupt, and un-American CNMI labor system; created here to accommodate textile industry greed. If the Governor can’t, we need someone that can.

We could then enforce US investor visa laws for foreign nationals here. Perhaps then, our new zoning director, working with the Governor, could even develop a plan that would result in leveling every tin shack barrio and unsightly structure, to finally erase every last remnant of the textile industry from the Marianas Islands. Hopefully, one day citizen workers in the Marianas will buy new cars, build homes, and peacefully prosper in paradise.

Anonymous said...

What are you talking about Ron?

Anonymous said...

8:37 anonymous

We'll go home and you clean your own toilet, cook your own food. live on a island with empty hotels. no tourism. no restaurants. no hairdresser. no mechanic. no clubs. you can have poor living conditions without us to make everything good for you. enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Teacher, I agree with what you say,let me interject some things here that shows some kind of life style and "trining"
Many of the children on the streets in the PI are working for a "Boss".They are being exploited, I have been shown some of this first hand. At various times of the day,at certain areas you can see a new expensive car or van dropping off and picking up these "dirty" kids and many women with babies dressed in rags. during the day you can also notice these vehicles coming by and dropping "merienda"(snacks)and also lunches.
There is another scam carried out with "shanty towns" and the so called squatters, by the well to do (another story)

In Subic there is a large ship yard that employs about 28K workers. most of the trades are Koreans with a very large Filipino work force. (the Filipino get about 250 peso a day while the Korean workers get equivalent to US mainland wages.)

Last year alone there was over 4K serious accidents with about 200 deaths (forgot the exact number).The first three months this year there was 12 deaths. That is only the accidents that involved Filipino workers (Korean workers' accidents are not reported)

The traffic accidents with the buses and heavy trucks are another story.(all Filipino drivers) The first three months this year there were 5 major bus accident carrying workers more than 100 injured and some deaths. There were many load spills of heavy machinery or iron fabrications. Mostly all on the turns in the road. (this is all on the Subic base area)Lucky no deaths reported.

There are Govt. safety people on the job site to watch for safety hazards and issue tickets. (Korean payoffs)
Workers barracks are much worse than any of the pictures shown.

Oxygen and acetylene tanks through out the PI are transported without caps in bulk or the back of tricycle,bicycles, floors and roofs of jitneys, buses and jeeps.
The plants said that if they send the bottle out with caps the caps don't come back so no need them.
There is uncounted accidents and deaths caused by this.

The PI legislature has finally passed a law this year for birth control devices and family planning, the catholic church is still fighting it, but the pills is and has been available for years for 40peso (About$0.90) a pack but people don't care, only push out baby's with no jobs or ability to feed them.
When the "Doctors without Borders" come through the Phil, among birth control devices and education,other things, they will "fix" the men and the women that want, to prevent pregnancies (free)
They can only go to the small Baringay clinics and get in and out before the Catholic church show up.

The NMI legislatures and other Govt agencies mirror the Phil. because they are all descendants and with many of the same names attitude and mentality.
Even the business treat their workers the same as many of the contract workers in the NMI

That is the life style and must be in the genes.
That is why many refer to the NMI as "less than third world country"
Maybe another generation until some change is apparent.

Anonymous said...

This thread is replete with racism, as is federalization itself.

the teacher said...

I have heard that there are adults controlling the kids in the streets. Several residents and cab drivers told me they are exploited in small time rackets and the 250 pesos per day is exactly correct.

Anonymous said...

The USCG needs to enforce the TWIC requirement. TWIC is Federal law. There are a dozen or so Filipinos who hold USCG licenses who do not qualify for a TWIC. The USCG has promised to crack down on these non-TWIC holders and file criminal charges if necessary - good for them.

Anonymous said... the past 31 years since the Commonwealth government began, the feds have been ignoring literally dozens of applicable federal laws. Here in the CNMI they are trying to run law enforcement on the cheap.

Anonymous said...

To 1:27 the recent new regs should have taken care of that. I believe it was 4-15-09 the deadline. I have for years complained to Guam, and here and even when I was in Honolulu, to no avail also the foreign hulls that are allowed to operate in the commercial and recration sectors.
The 2:04 Noni gave a link, I did not read it as I am familiar with the regs.

The answer to the foreign hulls was that there was a waiver as it cost too much to have US hulls shipped in. Years ago I ran my boat from Hawaii and many other vessels have been either shipped or floated to Guam then on to here.
But correct something should be done to have a license and work in Saipan the wage was good until the foreign "six packers" came into play. Good thing they could not get the bigger license.

Red october said...

I can see the reason why the guam legislature succesfully fire their cannon loaded with resolution #80 ammo to help defend the status quo? shame, shame.. Thank you so much Mr. Alfred Antolin for standing against it.

bart said...

"This post was not about the poor in America."

Thank you for finally recognizing that this is not America.

Wendy said...


I should have said mainland to be clear!

The Saipan Blogger said...

From Wikipedia:

French economist and demographer Alfred Sauvy, in an article published in the French magazine L'Observateur, August 14, 1952, coined the term Third World in referring to countries currently called either "developing" or "under-developed", especially in South Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Oceania, that were unaligned with either the Communist Soviet bloc or the Capitalist NATO bloc during the Cold War (1945–1989).

Anonymous said...

Who is in the PI exploiting workers? Willie Tan with his garment factory at Subic Bay.

Anonymous said...

You mean giving them jobs, and an opportunity to save and better their lives?

Armchair Progressive said...

Tan Siu Lin Plaza in Garapan, Saipan was built from the blood, sweat, and tears of cruelly indentured contract slaves who gave the best years of their lives for the enrichment of the fithy lucre-seeking capitalist oppressors.

“What is to be done?” What else but green cards for all guest workers who have endured, or will ever endure in the future, Shame on American Soil?

What indeed, comrade?

luzon said...

Ron I hope your wife makes you sleep outside tonite. An d to “anonymous” who wrote “this is the life style and must be in the genes.” YOU ARE A RACIST. You took everything bad about the Philippines and claim all about our countrys bad. You said no good things. We can do that with every country. We can do that with US, US with killing innocent people in wars.
Ron said “Destitute families encourage their talented children to work abroad and then coerce them with guilt and pity to remit money home for support. When people survive on charity, they become entirely dependent on handouts, thereby becoming unable to survive or feed themselves.” Filipinos work to send there children to college in hopes they have better lives. If there unable to survive why are they working abroad? Did your wife come to CNMI to work? Where do you want us to remit money we earn, if not to our own families? We pay taxes in CNMI. Do you want people to tell you where to spend your money you earn?
Ron said “50 million people do nothing.” You did not study our history.
Ron said CNMI looks like PI more everyday. CNMI is not as beautiful as the PI. Maybe you only visited in Manila. If CNMI didn’t bring new workers in everyday maybe some with no jobs would have work and could fix there house.
Anonymous said "we push out babies." I ask you to come out and say who you are. Your a coward to say all this and not say who you are.
Ron wants us to have status so we can “Freely move abroad.” This is our home!

Armchair Idiot said...

And Armchair Progressive, the fact that one would even think about such snarky sarcasm on so serious a topic is proof positive of deep-seated racisim, or at least a woeful lack of empathy for those dwelling in the lower tier of the CNMI's shameful, inhumane two-tier social system perpetuated by all who fail to oppose it in thought, word, blog-post, and vote for Juan & Galvin!

Melberlin said...

What Ron saw in PI is even occurring in the US... and in most places in the world.. beggars are everywhere and there are lot worst than in PI. Wanna try to google them? that's so easy to find them in the internet. Don't single out PI Ron...

Anonymous said...

Poverty is not so shameful as people's reaction to it and lack of heart.

Armchair Traveller said...

Hear, hear.

But "compassion" does not necessarily mean advocating bonus immigration status. The Republic of the Philippines is a wonderful place to live, for its nationals and U.S. citizen children alike.

What makes a nation great are its people, their culture, their character -- not per capita income. Those who opine otherwise have really fallen into the materialism that they so decry among capitalists. What matters is the heart, and the virtues that reside there. By no means is the Republic of the Philippines a bad place to raise children.

The Bible says to care for the orphans, widows, and aliens in our midst. By no means should they be mistreated. In an ideal world, there would be absolutely free immigration anywhere.

However, nations do have a prudential right to defend their democracies, and at least some minimum standard of living that results from their enlightened governance policies and rule-of-law emphasis.

The immigration debate in the CNMI is really part of the same discussion ongoing on a national basis.

I believe the Obama administration will set aside this divisive issue this year until they can achieve consensus on health care reform.

Anonymous said...

To armchair progressive armchair idiot and anonymous haters

may you be reincarnated as the poorest of the poor in the most poor nation with the most corrupt of corrupt rulers

may you go to work as OCW in place like Saipan

may you work for the most evil of evil boss

may you be treated the worse of the worse

may you scream for justice and no one hears and those who do don’t care

may you be cheated of pay and never get it back

may children toss stones at you and laugh

may haters tell you to go home

may your boss not appreciate you even though you work hard

may you be laughed at and be told to say yes sir

may you live in the most broken house and walk by mansions everyday

may you go to bed hungry every night after working in the most beautiful restaurant serving people like armchair progressive armchair idiot and anonymous haters

may you stay wake every night praying for a better life

may your feet and hands have blister

may people in nice houses with full stomaches and lots of money make fun of you, your people and where you came from

may people who don't suffer everyday make jokes about you on blogs

may you fall in love and get married to another OCW

may you have a child

may you work to give the child a good life even though the people in the nation want you to suffer and don't want you to get a chance for good life

may the people criticize you for falling in love and giving birth because your poor

may you not have money to buy your wife medecine and may you cry with shame and hopelessness as you watch her suffer

may you live everyday knowing your happiness is out of your control and the people in the heartless land just want your work and really hate you

may you lose your job and have to return home without your child

may you live to be 100

I wish this for you so you can grow a heart
you have none

Anonymous said...

Wow, tell us how you really feel anon. Get a life. All of the problems with labor abuses, living conditions, etc. all stem from your OWN country and it's corrupt Government. "Her Excellency" is a corrupt, lying, spoiled Filipina who has followed in the footsteps of many other lying, cheating and corrupt officials in the Philippines. Just take a look at Metro Manila and the kids living in boxes while SUVs whisk by. Perhaps with the total hell hole that the PI is, maybe just maybe some Guest Workers can simply say "Thank you" to the generous people of the United States who at least try and maintain order and fairness in their lives. Like I said, fix the problems in your own country, it may take 100 years but it must be done.

Anonymous said...

noni 5:57

Get a life? Abuses that happen on Saipan COME FROM ABUSERS ON SAIPAN, not from the PI.
What a pathetic argument. Who said the anonymous person was from the PI? Could be from Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, India, Burma,China...

People from PI have manners. You don't.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 9:37 you can add anonymous at 5:47 with the armchairs and haters

the teacher said...

Melberlin - I agree that this happens in the US and many other places but with our geographic proximity to PI and the fact 34% of my students identify themselves as Filipino (36% Chamorro), and considering the garment industry has closed and their Chinese employees gone or leaving, PI has more interest to residents here.

I did not say anything racist and do not want anyone to move that doesn't want to. Let’s be straight though, no one wants to be handcuffed here and unemployed either. Improving status to CGW's has always been the solution to this never ending story of shame perpetuated here by corporate greed and corruption.

If status was improved, laws of supply and demand would prevail in an escalating minimum wage community, as it should be.

The point is "Do I want 1/2 our residents sending their money away", the answer is NO.

My comment says the PI is growing people for export purposes and they have organized impoverished children to beg in traffic. Anyone denying that has not visited in awhile.

Thanks "luzon" for dragging my wife into the discussion...throw mud at me if you like, but if you really love PI, you could write Groria about your opinions about tiny children in the street.

Enforcement Advocate said...

Noni 9:37 PM,

Many of the so-called heartless have much more experience with our guest workers than you realize, and don't frequent restaurants.

Picking out the worst of abuses (which happen in the U.S. mainland, Guam, the CNMI, and much more in the countries of origin) still does not justify Green Cards. Bad facts make bad policy.

What it does call for is greater enforcement of existing laws.

Anonymous said...

To 6-2--9:37, been there did that and had it happen to me in the NMI. (except for the working in restaurant thing)but no food and the rest is correct.

I and others were replaced by contract workers (cheap labor)in a company take over.
I am highly multi skilled and educated, but no job was available even for the before $3.05 hr.
I had to "steal" vegetables from the fields to feed my wife and child, bathe in the ocean, catch "Ama" crab off the rocks, small reef fish, etc. and sleep in the jungle in makeshift shelter. We were repeatedly chased off the beach parks tables night time by DPS.I tried to get them to arrest us so we could have shelter and food.But unless I committed a crime they only wanted to harass us and laugh.
If I committed a crime and went to jail my family would have died.

I am a US citizen, non Asian or black. Just A poor "white boy"
This is a true short story.I may write a book about this chapter later on in my life.

the teacher said...

Luzon - “Ron I hope your wife makes you sleep outside tonite.”

Again, thanks for dragging my wife into the string.

Luzon - “US with killing innocent people in wars.”

I was opposed to the current military action and expressed my sentiments in a seven point letter written to the President before the entry in Iraq. I don’t know what else a school teacher could be expected to do about it.

Luzon - Ron said “Destitute families encourage their talented children to work abroad and then coerce them with guilt and pity to remit money home for support. When people survive on charity, they become entirely dependent on handouts, thereby becoming unable to survive or feed themselves.”

You left out the last sentence of the paragraph which takes the statement somewhat out of context and that was “No country rivals the Philippines distinction and reputation in this area, and apparently the government supports this unconscionable economic model.” Do you dispute this?

Luzon - Ron said “50 million people do nothing.” You did not study our history.

Perhaps it should read “do nothing about it”. I would not claim to have Jaimie or Zaldy’s historical knowledge of PI but rereading my original comment, I can’t find one inaccurate observation.

Luzon - Ron said CNMI looks like PI more everyday. CNMI is not as beautiful as the PI. Maybe you only visited in Manila. If CNMI didn’t bring new workers in everyday maybe some with no jobs would have work and could fix there house."

This is so nasty and mean spirited that it can only be a Dekada member still upset that I openly opposed all forms of CNMI status. It is tough to say which is more beautiful, while the rice terraces should be a wonder of the world, the water, reefs, and general decay caused by human pollution from a complete disregard to the environment, is alarming. I would say the Northern Marianas Islands are much more pristine. I have never cared for Manila, as I do not care for Seoul, Mexico City, LA, and other overcrowded urban areas, and have spent only about 25nights there in about 30 trips to PI. I have been from Palawan and the Sulu Islands to the northern tip of Luzon and visited many delightful places, if it has anything to do with anything. The CNMI is bringing in new workers while sending home the older workers, which is why I never understood why worker "leaders" would conspire with CNMI govt. officials…and the answer is to save their own arse.

Luzon - Ron wants us to have status so we can “Freely move abroad.” This is our home!

This is an attempt to twist and distort what I said. I said “may freely move abroad” and if you are a PI national, this is not your home. So is this your home or is PI your home? I love the commonwealth but I do not own it and may not own land here.

Anonymous said...

Home is where the heart is. No one can tell someone where there home is.

the teacher said...

PS noni 9:37, you are truly talented. That is a nice work of art.

Red october said...

To the teacher,I hope you don't be distracted of whatever you think is right,because you'r telling the truth and nothing but the truth.As a former child labor back then in central PI, I'm not ashame of what you wrote about my country because i know you saw it in your own eyes.
Our own govt. they blindly allow it
for the sake of $ remitance to fuel the country economy and the church? still, they don't care about the growing population. Carry on teacher I'm 100% behind you.

Anonymous said...

People are a blessing, not a burden. Each is a unique gift of God. They are the ones who will solve the problems in their homeland.

Anonymous said...

BTW, In the Philippines, Hanjin Heavy Industries ship yard(Korean) In Subic and Misamis Oriental will be hiring 24,000 more Filipino workers.(Division of Samsung)

Also the Philippines Maritime Industry is sending out between 600 to 1000 seaman a day to shipping companies around the world.

This is to let any possible displaced construction oriented guest workers (Filipino only)that there is many jobs available back in the Philippines.

This is also along with many jobs and retraining that the Philippine Govt has put into affect due to the world economy and the many OFW's that are being laid off and sent back home from places like Taiwan, Hong Kong etc.(Aprox. 800K plus jobs)

Anonymous said...

Many unemployed aliens here are pooling money and/or attempting to have sham businesses or companies.

The Chinese and Koreans are doing this.

Anonymous said...

goose, the teacher and others:

why do you always have to bring up PI? CNMI is US soil & things around here should be discussed by US standards. what is going on in PI should not be a model for what should be happening here.

all of us here in the CNMI, regardless of place of origin, should be living the life that US democracy promise to offer everyone who believes in it.

i think discussions should be restricted to what should and should not be happening based on what americans preach as the democratic way to live.

should a pinoy who aspires to have a better life for himself and for his children be forever told to be content no matter what, just because life is better here than back home?

pinoys will always survive even under the toughest conditions back home, here, and anywhere else. it is true that you would see extreme poverty in PI, but pinoys still find ways to earn a living and one path is to go to other countries who need and welcome workers. we are here, because like anybody else we dream of better things than what we had and we find ways to achieve that dream. while here, on US soil, should we expect anything less than US way of life?

bad politicos and bad governance in PI do not reflect the character of the majority of its citizenry. we are nothing less than any other human being.


Anonymous said...


You are exactly right! Well put.

the teacher said...

Kalahi's message was an extremely nationalistic one. My opinions did not mention any one persons and was mainly targeted at their poor governance and hope that someone there, at least one person with guts, would get those orphaned kids off the streets.

And no one could refute that PI intentionally grows people for export.

Anonymous said...

the teacher:

just what exactly do you mean by "PI intentionally grows people for export"?

it was and is, an individual pinoy's choice to go abroad. most of us can survive on whatever we earn back home, but then there is a family to care for, thus we think of how to best help them - the best way is go to places like CNMI.

it's true that pay rate here is much much higher compared to PI but so are the prices of commodities here. we spend what we earn here just as if we're back home. what ever excess we have is what we remit to PI.

when we remit the oh so precious dollar it goes around and is used to spend for things such as US products - affects global economy right? i'm sure you are more knowleadgeable on this area than i am.

growing up, did you not think of moving from your native state to go to another state to experience better things? would that then be construed as that your state is intentionally growing people for "export" (yeah i know export is used for 'one country to another')?

tell me - why are you here? why did you leave your native state?


Anonymous said...

The PI does not intentionally grow people for export. The poverty and circumstances dictate this sad situation. How many families are split up because one person goes to work abroad to save them? Families need to be together. Hoping for a solution.

the teacher said...

I left my native state because I was 5 months old and my father was in service in Europe and I never returned there to live. I last visited for my Grandmother's funeral and was sickened to see the family farm sliced up into trailer parks for welfare cases.

I believe our notable Saipan writer, Jaimie V., has more history with that state than I do. He was nearly PNGed there for writing that they are more concerned with horses than education, a valid point, in my opinion.

I am here because it is pristine and tranquil, there isn't much violent crime, traffic, or pollution, and the friendly nature of the people here is cultural to these islands. So friendly in fact, that indigenous people have been taken advantage of here in the past.

But back to the topic, the Philippines are growing people to export, or intentionally overpopulating as an economic strategy. It is their number one GDP and the government protects and fosters the practice.

When a couple that can barely feed themselves has 10 kids with the prayer that 2 or 3 of them will get hired abroad so they can remit money, there is a problem. Overpopulation is not being addressed and they are perpetuating poverty with ignorance.

The concept of "helping" family members is different in the American mindset. The American culture helps your children as much as possible to make them well educated and able to survive and prosper. After those children emancipate, they are expected to fend for themselves.

I can't imagine a father, a grown man, accepting money from his hard working daughter (or son) and I would prefer starvation than to take from my child. I don't know if that’s pride or culture, but I have more respect for a thief than I do a beggar.

On the subject of remittance, I think people are entitled to do whatever they want with their money, but the tiny NMI will never prosper with a high percentage of residents sending their salary abroad. We can't afford to feed large impoverished nations.

Does anyone think that drawing food stamps from taxpaying Americans while remitting money abroad is fair and just?

Anonymous said...

What happened with Ron? I felt something distinctly differing from all his previous commentaries from the past years... is he harboring any ill feelings with the so-called long-term CGW leaders? just not as expected from him....

the teacher said...

Nothing has happened to me and my opinions on this matter have never changed. I said this in the article you must be taking exception to:

"To insure the NMI does not move that direction, the Governor should support improving the status of longtime legal contract guest workers here, so that they may freely move abroad."

But are you asking me if I want a NMI residency plan to lock thousands of unemployed unskilled workers here under a broken NMI labor and immigration system...then the answer is no.

As I have said before, I am sympathetic to the plight of impoverished persons in every land but my undevided loyalties are to the CNMI, and the citizens here now and in the future.

Anonymous said...

The work of several advocates in the CNMI, including this blog author, has been instramental in the case to improve the status of workers in the CNMi and the reputation of the people of the Marianas.

Anonymous said...

A fact seldom mentioned in this case is that the Philippines is not in favor or granting citizenship and does not support concerted labor movements and efforts and this is a factor the US must consider.