Federal Position Clarified by the Federal Labor Ombudsman Pam Brown

March 10, 2010


Some critics of the Federal Labor Ombudsman Pamela Brown claimed that she "skipped out" since DOL's Deputy Secretary Cinta Kaipat publicly denounced her clarification of the federal position on umbrella permits and related questions. Unfortunately, the ombudsman broke her pelvis and was unable to attend the hearing Friday, March 5, 2010.

Today Ms. Brown issued a statement in response to DOL's misinformation.

As I stated here in previous posts, the ombudsman spoke with the authority of the federal government. "I do not speak without authority from DC," she said.

The ombudsman stated, "What I stated at the forum and to any employer who inquires regarding employment of aliens in the CNMI post November 28, 2009, are not my views/interpretations/opinions. It is the consensus of all the Federal agencies involved in implementation of P.L. 110-229."

On March 9, 2010 Kaipat defiantly challenged the federal position claiming that DOL could revoke umbrella permits. She bragged that about 200 umbrella permits had been revoked by DOL.

The Marianas Variety reported:
Deputy Labor Secretary Jacinta M. Kaipat told the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations during a hearing yesterday afternoon that despite the implementation on Nov. 28, 2009 of U.S. Public Law 110-229, or the federalization law, the CNMI government can still enact labor-related laws to protect its interests.

“We need to…prevent any disruption by federal preemption. When we take out the immigration and deportation language, then [CNMI] laws are beyond the reach of federal preemption,” said Kaipat.
Kaipat claimed that Ms. Brown was "acting recklessly and irresponsibly" and stated that her "statements were uncalled for." It is Kaipat, Buckingham and the governor who are acting irresponsibly in refuting the statements representing the federal government's position as relayed through federal official Pamela Brown. Before they created more confusion and issued inaccurate statements, they should have checked with federal officials.

Governor Fitial told the Saipan Tribune:
Fitial, at the same time, said he met with U.S. Labor Ombudsman Pamela Brown in Washington, D.C. and that Brown's statements to foreign workers regarding umbrella permits and the Department of Labor's role are not correct.

“She's wrong. Whoever believes in Pamela Brown will get himself into trouble because this is a Homeland Security issue,” she said.
The governor knew that Ms. Brown was in Washington, DC for weeks. He even stated that he met with her. He should have known she was speaking with authority based on her many meetings with the agencies charged with implementation of PL110-229.

CNMI Attorney General Edward Buckingham also agreed that DOL could revoke umbrella permits. He claimed that ignoring conditions set by the Department of Labor could "subject the permit holder to unfortunate consequences." From the Saipan Tribune:
“Specifically, the Department of Labor has both the authority and the duty to monitor compliance with umbrella permit holders. Should one or more conditions of the umbrella permit not be met, the umbrella permit is subject to being revoked,” Buckingham said.

Buckingham said if holders of umbrella permits believe they no longer need to comply with Labor standards, they may face revocation of the permit.

“This may affect their status in the Commonwealth and may lead to deportation proceedings. The Commonwealth and the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have different roles to play. But, as a whole, we are part of the same government,” he said.
Statements by the DOL Deputy Secretary, the AG, and the Governor are incorrect according to the federal government. Revocation of the umbrella permit by DOL will not be recognized by the federal government. Ms. Brown stated, "The CNMI can take whatever action it chooses regarding umbrella permits. The Federal government simply will not recognize its actions that attempt to alter the expiration date of November 27, 2011."

That would mean that regardless of the 200 umbrella permits that Kaipat bragged that DOL revoked, those permit holders will not be deported by the federal government.

The federal labor ombudsman stated, "P.L. 110-229 recognizes the status of aliens present in the CNMI for the duration of any authorization issued by the CNMI prior to November 28, 2009 and recognizes the work authorization for any such alien issued prior to November 28, 2009. The umbrella permits extended both authorization for all 240 K, L, M, G, E, D, P, B, H, and F, to name a few, permit holders. This was the CNMI's chosen action and not the Federal government's. Therefore, under the plain reading of the law, any holder of an umbrella permit is allowed to remain and work pursuant to the umbrella permit until November 27, 2011. This is the Federal position."

Some clarifications that were made at the forums:
  • Umbrella permits are valid until November 27, 2011. They cannot be "revoked" by the DOL.
  • Any person who has a valid umbrella permit can work in the CNMI, including foreign students and foreign investors as long as they carry out the responsibilities of their original permit. For instance, a student would have to remain in school while working.
  • The CNMI DOL no longer has authority over foreign nationals. No foreign national needs to report to DOL regardless of any reporting date printed on the umbrella permit. Even if DOL revokes a valid umbrella permit, the alien worker remains authorized to work in the CNMI under federal law until November 27, 2011.
  • Employers do not need the approval of the CNMI DOL to hire an alien with a valid umbrella permit. New hires will be required to complete Section 1 of form I-9 on the day the umbrella permit holder begins work, and the employer will complete Section 2 of the form within three business days of the employee being hired.
  • The requirement that businesses must hire a certain percentage of US citizens before hiring foreign workers is no longer valid.
  • An employer or the CNMI government cannot "send a foreign worker home", remove or deport an alien. Only DHS has such authority.
  • If an employee is not renewed he/she can remain in the CNMI until November 27, 2011 to locate a new employer.
  • Lost, stolen or damaged umbrella permits can only be replaced at the CNMI Department of Labor. DHS does not replace these permits.
  • Employers are still responsible for an employee's medical and workers compensation coverage.
  • If an alien is not in custody of the DHS, he/she may leave the CNMI at any time at the employer's expense.
  • A person cannot be discriminated in their employment because of their nationality or origin of citizenship.
  • Holders of umbrella permits authorizing employment may work until Nov. 27, 2011, even though the permit may contain two dates.
  • There’s no more processing fee and if a worker is asked to pay for one, the employer can be charged criminally.
  • The federal government does not require employers to seek permission from CNMI Labor when renewing the contracts of their guest workers.
  • For those without an umbrella permit, their legal stay in the CNMI will be determined by the expiration date of their entry permits.
Anyone who has had their permit "revoked" by DOL or who has been denied a TWA by DOL can seek assistance from the Federal Ombudsman's Office on Middle Road, Mariana Heights Building II, Suite 203. If you have any questions on status, umbrella permits or other foreign contract worker related questions, you may also contact the Federal Ombudsman's Office, 322-8030.

GET WELL SOON, PAM!

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's pathetic that the CNMI leaders lack respect for federal officials and openly question their authority. We saw this with Benedetto, with Cohen, with Miller, with Staymen and with anyone that the CNMI government disagreed with. GROW UP! You are embarrassing us.

Get well Pam.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing things up here.

We all hope you get better soon Pam.

no more lies said...

The best things we can do is to STOP GOING TO DOL. STOP BELIEVING DOL. THEY CANNOT HURT US NO MORE. DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD.

Anonymous said...

As what "no more lies" said above, "stop going to DOL"....but the thing is, employers are confused as well. They're still going to DOL and pay fees for their non-resident employees.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:51

Why are they paying fees when they don't have to? Fees for what? Why don't they call the ombudsman's office or UNCIS and ask some questions from the federal officials if they are confused?

Anonymous said...

Wishing you a speedy recovery Ms. Pam.

Anonymous said...

truly ms. wendy and ms. pam are new generation hereos..The LOrd will bless u more..Thank u very much,,Ms Wendy i would love to meet u in person!! Ms. Pam. well pray for ur immeditate recovery,,dont worry ul be fine!!God bless!!!!

Anonymous said...

What is so amazing in all this is the AG's position. He should know better.

Anonymous said...

DOL should cooperate with the Ombudsman office, Ms. Pamela Brown. She knows better than CINTA KAIPAT and Mr. BUCKINGHAM. We believe of what Ms. Pam mentioned during the forum. People of CNMI why don't we love each other instead of hate each other. You have to think that we are not living in this world permanently we are all temporary here no matter what all of us will be leaving soon... Think of what's happening around the world...just the recent one is Chile's quake wih 8.8 mag. we should be thankful that nothing is happening here in CNMI ..THANK GOD! PLEASE BLESS THE PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.... TAKE CAKE MS. PAMELA BROWN.

Itos said...

PAM,GET WELL SOON THANK YOU...

Anonymous said...

The AG should know better? he's an IDIOT, we cant figure out why this bonehead is still here, people like him are very bad for the islands. very bad for business

he needs to go back to wherever he came from

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of this administration, Kaipat, Buckingham, et al, is absolutely breathtaking!

Brash fools.

Maybe, if we ignore them, they will simply go away?

Anonymous said...

Get well soon Pam, God will protect you, we will pray for your safety. We are all gratefull for standing up against all odds, like Wendy does. The truth will come out and we will hang in here waiting for an answered prayer. God bless!

Captain said...

Concerning the AG.
What do you expect from a Gov. appointed "yes" man. It was obvious from the beginning when he made that "not so smart statement" that he served the Gov. and if the Gov liked his work he would be retained" (something along those lines)

It showed, like all the rest of the appointed AG "clowns", and others, along with input from some of the other Asst AG's that had left to Guam and beyond, about the way they where told to operate and how to phrase their statements.

I am surprised though that this AG would make such a "clear" statement contradicting the Fed.Ombudsman.
Truly a blatant disregard for Fed.authority. (not unlike the "Massage Gate" indecent and the prison "beating" of an inmate).

I am wondering if the salery this "clown" gets is worth his reputation in the long run.
I think he better wipe his nose, it has a brown stain.

Pam is an attorney and not like the "volunteers"
I respect what she says when she speaks.She does not make statements without knowledge, or approval.
From past experience, she does not talk unless she is sure. (unlike this present and past admins) "open mouth, inset foot"
Look at her opening statement at the meeting. it tells all.

Prior when she was the Ombudsman (during Zacharias time) she help us out on a conflict with DOLE with one of our workers vs another employer that had "bought" DOLE.
At that time she relayed that they where working on the well known "corruption within DOLE"

Enough said, all you unbelievers wearing green, beware, as I stated before, "The showdown is on the horizon" Lets see when and where it comes. I also suspect this Massage Gate is not over either.

Pam at this moment may be down,(temp) but is not out. Cinta (Siemers) and the rest should "tread lightly"

Anonymous said...

Get well soon Pam, God will protect you, we will pray for your safety. We are all gratefull for standing up against all odds, like Wendy does. The truth will come out and we will hang in here waiting for an answered prayer. God bless!

Wendy said...

Ignoring DOL is easy for anyone but many of the foreign workers who are so afraid of the big bad Wizard (DOL) that they can't see that there is a powerless person behind the curtain. I get calls and emails saying, "I know we were told we didn't have to go to DOL BUT what if they deport us? ...what if they take my permit? ...what if they tell me I have to pay to renew my TWA and I don'?" DOL has encouraged this fear and plays off of it.

As long as the foreign workers continue to cower and question instead of reporting to the ombudsman's office to get assistance DOL will have "power" over the foreign workforce. The bottom line is that the CNMI government wants to maintain its revenue source. It's really beyond arrogant.

The way that DOL has treated the foreign workforce over the years is what is truly breathtaking. This appears to be more of the same. The never-ending saga, drama, tale of oppressing and intimidating the foreign workers while bleeding them dry.

What is startling is that so-called "good" attorneys who just fall in line to support the questionable agendas of administrations that promote this kind of thing. From Doug Muir under Froilan, to Kara under Tenorio to Buckingham today.

Captain said...

Now on another note concerning the Feds atatments, for calrification.

So now what is said, is that any worker without a job can hang out and stay until 2011.?

Workers can work for more than one employer?

The students can work?

Workers can make their own deal on wages etc.?

Who is responsible (liable) for the workers repatriation and medical etc. (return of the remains) etc. if a worker is out of a job and decides to stay with out a job?

Who is the agency that will process claims in the case of an employment issue, such as a wage or other discrepancy?

This may surly open the gates to much more labor abuse and also "stifle" the US workers from employment.

There are so many questions thatcan go on and on.

It all comes back to "just give some kind of status to these workers and get it over with.

This is a non popular end for many NMI officials along with other residence, but is surely looks like this may be also on the Horizon IF these comments from the Ombudsman office are correct, and indeed reflect the Feds "stand" on the issue with the NMI.

Anonymous said...

T0 be semi safe and try to advoid reprisals against me, my family and business, I will use the name (Vu Mon DO) Go ahead and burn your bridges. Until you see something in writing in the form of an official document for other than DOL and Pam Brown, all is second hand gibberish.

Simply look at our last election. It was fitial or bust. If you were or are still against his dictator style rule, you will be replace, terminated, put on a no purchase list if you run a business, will have contracts not renewed etc. Once you side with Pam Brown and blow of DOL with a few good words of your negative opinion of them and things turn around, you might be able to beg your way back into some favor and maybe keep a job.

Another point is that most employers dont like these new rules and basically will form their own procedures for hiring workers who have lost jobs. Most employers will not renew a contract since none is needed. A new agreement may be offered with changes for example; No food, housing, no exam fees, no physicals, etc No employer is willing to hire someone with a recommendation as a lazy, unreliable, questionable thief, etc for a available position as there will still be a few good workers out there seeking to climb the chain and improve their jobs/income. Those that dont have a good rep will become unhirable as the work would get out about them. seeing no foodstamps, welfare, wic and so on, they become self employed and liberate items from those that dont need. Lock your doors, put extra locks on the windows/ Have portable fire extingishers and lighting available, and any weapon available, loaded, and ready to fire. Keep in mind for small children and such when positioning these weapons. As food becomes scarce, no fuel for boats fof fishing, and you are lucky and have a nice catch, getting it home without several accounters begging a fish.

We see the trend to come already. Non renewal notice for existing work contracts. offer a new contract at minimal wage, no housing, no transportation, and no medical costs. You would of course be covered under workers compensation insurance. Live it up for the next 2 years, save your money instead of sending it off island to your families as you will need it when the day comes soon and you are waiting for boarding time at the airport. By the year 2014 the only visitor to Saipan will be holding a tourist visa and that is it. No more Fitial/Willie Tan slave labor trade. Oh and if you get a chance to watch the new movie "Casino Jack and the money of the U.S. You will see how this all got started, how it was sustained and why it failed. Mostly you will see who made the money and who the used to get it (the Locals).

Time moves so fast and that is the only positive thing said here. Be patient and we will get our island back to flurish as it could being a tourist resort. We might even get lucky and have a mega typhoon that would wash all the trash laying around, shacks, buildings that were not permitted or inspected. We might even end up with a nice lower electric bill once all the illegal hook-ups are down, food stamps would drop by 75 to 80% but the best part would be that the Locals and U.S. Citizens would no longer be the minority on their own island. The count will be in works soon and if done right, we will soon see how many of each of are here on Saipan.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11:31

The word and authority of a federal official should suffice. You want an engrqaved statement?

Anonymous said...

LoL, since when is the word of a Federal or Local offical even near the real truth. All you have to do is read the local papers and watch the news to see how bad the politics are here locally and as far as federal, Where is all the Marianas Trench Monument income that was promised. Don't believe it till you hear it, read it, and see it actually being done.

Anonymous said...

I believe Pam. When did she ever lie to us? NEVER! Cinta ALWAYS!

Jack Woods said...

I think it's stupid to rely on the opinion of a single government worker who is not even in the same department as the one responsible for making the rules.

While it's stupid, it's even more stupid to listen to someone who spouts off rules and regulations that a) haven't been published in the federal register and b) go against existing published regulations.

Anonymous said...

Above said:

"Pam is an attorney and not like the "volunteers"
I respect what she says when she speaks.She does not make statements without knowledge, or approval.
From past experience, she does not talk unless she is sure. (unlike this present and past admins) "open mouth, inset foot"
Look at her opening statement at the meeting. it tells all."

Wasn't Pamela Brown Blackburn a former CNMI AG? LMAO! Let's open that can of worms.

Anonymous said...

Are you the Jack Woods who works for Ladera School and defends the corruption there? Aren't you involved in some of it? Wasn't your boss Anna Park arrested for fraud in Korea last month?

Who are you to decide what's stupid?

yho r. villavicencio said...

Jack Woods: hmmmmm... now who's stupid? you were saying... single government worker.....