CNMI Department of Labor Hell

January 15, 2010

The CNMI DOL called the people with a "temporary" umbrella permit to their office yesterday to get a permanent permit with a photo. The guest worker leaders and guest workers report that there was no planning and workers were forced to stand for hours in long lines in the intense heat with little shade.

Caseworkers from the Federal Ombudsman's Office were at the DOL from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. They report over 1,500 workers were lined up during the day. There were about 250 still in line when DOL stop its operations at 5:00 p.m. including 50 up on the second floor waiting for their papers.

Some workers started lining up at 7:00 am. The lines grew throughout the day.

It was reported that many workers were told to pay an additional $50 for an umbrella permit.

Any foreign national who was told that their permit was revoked or was given anything other than a new umbrella permit should report to the Federal Ombudsman Office on Tuesday or Wednesday for assistance.

The Saipan Tribune reported:
Beth, a store cashier, told Saipan Tribune that she was among those who joined the line as early as 7am. She said that after an hour, a Labor official began calling in the workers in alphabetical order. As a result, Beth said, they lost their place in the line. She said she was so disappointed that she went home instead.

“Labor should think that we have work too. They should develop an orderly system to avoid these long lines under the sun,” she said.

Labor Deputy Secretary Cinta Kaipat told Saipan Tribune that they are doing their best to accommodate everybody.
Please, DOL show these people some respect. Get some tents for shade, some water and maybe picnic tables. Is this really the best you can do?

Kaipat said, “We will continue to do this until we're done. Next week we will continue this. We will entertain everyone."

I received news that Director Barry Hirschbein and another male employee were screaming loudly and rudely at the crowd to "line up" and "move back" and giving orders like they were herding cattle. A guest worker leader remarked, "The DOL employees should be acting like public servants and treating their clients with respect. They are collecting fees from us. They created a system of chaos and they yelled at the workers."

He suggested that workers should be provided a number or token so that people can be served in order or there could be a smoother system.

On the new umbrella permits there are dates that tell the guest workers that they must report back to DOL. Some workers being issued new permits that have reporting dates only a few days from now. The expiration date on the permits is November 27, 2011, but there is also another date that the workers must report back to DOL -- workers say to renew DOL-issued labor permits and so they can collect more fees.

Rabby Syed, President of the United Workers Movement questions, "If an umbrella permits are honored by the USCIS as immigration permits until November 27, 2011 does the CNMI DOL still have authority to revoke or renew the permits? They should wait until the USCIS regulations are out and then let them handle the labor matters. Those aliens given umbrella permits before November 28, 2009 are legal. Why is DOL still calling people in? What is their authority? They have no immigration authority."

Mr. Syed said, "There is a condition on the umbrella permit that claims DOL can revoke the permit. If they have a concern about a guest worker then they can refer it to USCIS, but DOL should not be revoking these permits. I challenge this as a legal issue and we are prepared to take this issue to the federal court."

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Anonymous said...

So......what happens if you have an umbrella permit and don't get the photo ID card? No one at the now defunct DOI ever said we must get this card. Am I missing something here?

Captain said...

Kaipat, "We are doing the best they can" This shows a lot about the way this dysfunctional Govt works.
Goes back to "political appointees" that know nothing.
So sad and embarrassing.
There is nothing that words can describe, as the Gov has already set the 2010 presidence as their leader.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm,oh yeh, yeh, yeh, Cinta Kaypat did her best to let the poor guest workers suffercate lining up there under extreem heat, wow still don't wantto giveup, Cinta thinks DOL has the authority to decide immigration status over legalaliens hmmm, I am not suprise the way she think, she is still growingup, hmmmmm

MrCoffee said...

The photos sadden me as I would like to think that an agency like DOL could do a better job at service delivery. We Blue Passport Holders get tiffed about bad DMV experiences... but then again, we pay taxes back in the Mainland... not a good defense from DOL, but I want people treated like people, no matter what their legal status.

yellow said...

This is just a show. To show that their existence is still necessary using these poor guest workers. I believe they cannot issue anymore permit. These people should ask assistance at Ombudsman's office. And I suggest that the that the Ombudsman's office should make a position paper on umbrella permit to be published. Not only the guest workers are confused with the usefulness of this permit but also the employers.
Expect more of these on the coming months, DOL would be calling those holders of umbrella permit with revocation date of Feb. March and so on. This must be stop!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why anyone would line up at the CNMI DOL in the first place. Are they doing it because the corrupt circus at CNMI DOL says so? So if the Goveror called them at 3am and gave them an order would they jump and do it? Wake up people. I would publicly burn my umbrella permit and tell everyone at the broken labor department to pucker up and kiss my butt.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I wish DOL would start focusing more on building employment and training opportunities in the CNMI, maybe get that registered apprenticeship program off the ground like they've been promising, maybe advocating for better working conditions and equal opportunities for all ...
instead of making life hell for guest workers.

Anonymous said...

File a complaint against these abusive public servants.

Anonymous said...

Are these workers losing pay because they are spending days at the DOL? Stop the lunacy!

red october said...

"OUR GUEST WORKERS PROGRAM ARE BETTER THAN THE FEDERAL" ( DOL said ) sounds familair? see it yourself.
Anon 10:06
Of course we lost our time for the whole day and heck our empoloyer will not pay for the useless time that we spent at DOL parking lot.

PS, Thanks for your concern.

Saipan Writer said...

1. Don't burn your umbrella permits! They are valuable, as they provide status for you to stay in the CNMI the full term-until 11/27/2011.

2. I think that before any worker lines up they should get legal advice, or contact USCIS about their status. I'm not sure that they need worry.

3. The CNMI can't revoke the umbrella permits as they are immigration status permits and the CNMI has lost control over immigration.

4. If the CNMI tries to get more fees form workers and add conditions to the umbrella permit, like now requiring an identification card, they are overstepping their authority--they have no more authority regarding the umbrella permits.

5. What can the CNMI do if foreign contract workers don't pay, don't line up, don't try to deal with the alleged revocation? They can't deport the workers; they can't enforce any labor sanction against them--the workers have the backing of the USCIS that they are legally present and have authority to work if they have an umbrella permit.

There may be something I'm not thinking of, so I'd be curious to hear about it. But really, it seems like the workers should not waste their time or money at this point if they have their umbrella permits; they should just work.

Wendy said...

Saipan Writer:

Again, thank you for clarifying the legal questions concerning umbrella permits. I can offer my interpretations, but I am not an attorney. We all rely on Pam and ethical attorneys like you to tell the guest workers their rights.

Anonymous said...

Ok, that's clear. So what do you think Cinta's next step or what another absurd ideas will she can come up torment these contract workers? The picture is not cute enough so it has to be changed with a blue background?