More Labor Jive: Omnibus Bill Looks Ominous

March 9, 2010

How do they come up with this stuff?

Today's Marianas Variety says that the CNMI DOL wants to pass a law forcing businesses to base their mandatory hiring of U.S. citizens on a "floating benchmark" based on population statistics.

From the Variety:
Deputy Labor Secretary Jacinta M. Kaipat said increasing the employment rate of U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents and CNMI permanent residents will strengthen the islands’ foreign-labor dependent economy.

“We are proposing to change our hiring preference from a flat percentage (20 percent rising to 30 percent) to a floating benchmark governed by the percentage of the population that is U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents and CNMI permanent residents,” Kaipat said in her written testimony submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations which is reviewing House Bill 17-25, or the Immigration Conformity Act of 2010.

“As foreign workers depart the commonwealth, the percentage of ‘U.S. qualified’ persons in the commonwealth’s working population has been rising. We estimate that it is now about 40 percent of the total workforce and is still rising. A floating benchmark serves us better as a practical matter and is similar to the ‘hiring goals’ that have been used in the U.S. for many years,” she added.

H.B. 17-25 is proposed to be lumped with another bill pre-filed in the Senate.

This omnibus bill will amend parts of Public Law 15-108, or the Commonwealth Employment Act of 2007.
Is this an omnibus bill or an ominous bill? So far we know it contains goodies like a required Foreign National ID and jail time and a fine of up to $500 for not having it on one's person; some jive about DOL having the authority to revoke umbrella permits that they promised would be recognized until 2011; and other junk like changing the word immigration to labor in a few places so DOL can maintain immigration authority disguised as labor actions.

What will this provision really do? Well, businesses will continue to "hire" locals on paper, but they (shhh) won't really be working there. This has gone on since I lived in the CNMI. Then there will be businesses that will be saddled with workers that are not qualified, skilled or experienced, and they will be expected to try to train them to meet this mandatory quota. Oh, and let's not forget the employers like the Hafa Adai Hotel that had the guest workers train their own replacements. Classy.

Then there is the problem that there just are no qualified U.S. citizens for some jobs. What if there are no qualified U.S. citizen applicants to accept positions as beauticians, medical personnel, accountants, engineers and other jobs? Why should a business be punished?

Are businesses that pay minimum wage of $4.55 an hour really going to attract many U.S. citizen applicants? Many residents would rather go to the states and get a decent paying job than work for a wage that is not a living wage.

I am so confused. In the anti-federalization lawsuit the Fitial Administration claimed that the federal government was going to reduce the CNMI foreign workforce to zero by 2014 and it would destroy the CNMI economy because tens of thousands were needed. Kaipat now says, "There are not enough jobs for U.S. citizens in the CNMI."

Does she mean that there are not enough jobs that the U.S. citizens want to accept? Look at the job vacancies listed on the DOL website. Here are some that are listed: housekeeper (wow -lots), beautician, video camera supervisor, bartender, electrician, civil engineer, farmer, waiter, bell hop, dancer, masseuse, computer technician, commercial cleaner, industrial engineer, cook, mechanic, scuba diver instructor, dental assistant, and mechanical engineer.

Clearly, some of these jobs require years of education or training. Some require advanced college degrees. Some of the other jobs listed do not require extensive training, but most U.S. citizens would not want to fill them. How many U.S. citizens would like to strip in a club? Or serve as a housekeeper or farmer? How can the CNMI government legislate how many U.S. citizens a private business must hire? Good luck attracting new investors!

Is a law that discriminates based on nationality even legal? Aren't there federal laws that say employers cannot discriminate?

Kaipat who claimed her declarations filed in the anti-federalization lawsuit that the "superior" DOL had a great system for tracking the foreign workforce took yet another jab at the federal government:
“We have enough jobs in the commonwealth’s economy at present to employ every single U.S. citizen in the commonwealth who wants a job. We currently have more than 9,000 jobs filled by foreign workers. If the U.S. Census Bureau provided us with the same services they provide to every state and county in the U.S., I could tell you how many unemployed people we have,” she said.

“But the U.S. Census refuses to give us the vital information they provide mainland jurisdictions so we are left to guess about unemployment in the commonwealth. However, we know that we had about 11,000 people filing W-2 forms last year and we know we have about 32,000 U.S. qualified residents — that is, U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents and CNMI permanent residents,” she added.
Isn't it odd that the same administration that opposes wage hikes that would certainly attract more U.S. citizen workers has to force businesses to employ them? How are they going to enforce this law? They won't be processing the papers of foreign workers or of employers employing them. How will they know who met their quota?

Fitial's back and he said of Labor Ombudsman Pamela Brown, "She's wrong. He said, "Whoever believes in Pamela Brown will get himself into trouble because this is a Homeland Security issue.” Well, we'll just see about that, won't we?


Anonymous said...

"Is a law that discriminates based on nationality even legal? Aren't there federal laws that say employers cannot discriminate?"

Yes there is a law and it is legal but it's not discrimination Wendy. The US protects the American workforce and second to that the Green Card holder workforce first. Before a company can hire let's say an H visa worker they must exhaust US applicants. This is done to protect US Citizens. Remember them? I know you have such loyalty towards Filipinos but don't forget that you are an American first.

Anonymous said...

No federal official would call a meeting without having been given the authority to speak or without the hard facts. My bets are on Pam.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:44 You don't know anything about me or my loyalties.

Anonymous said...

I don't think they could enforce such a provision so why worry about it?

Anonymous said...

The Department of Labor states that the H-1B law doesn't require employers to seek local talent before recruiting abroad for their US job openings, except in limited circumstances when the employer is considered H-1B dependent:
The DOL's Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2006-2011 (pg. 36) states: "... H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker."
The Federal Register, dated June 30, 2006, Section II, paragraph 4, "the statute does not require demonstrate that there are no available US workers or to test the labor market for US workers as required under the permanent labor certification program."

Anonymous said...

H1B workers are being hired for cheap labor all across the United States. Our nation under liberal dems has been crippled. The American people are being put on the back burner for cheap foreign labor. A truly sad time for the United States of America.

sick of stupid said...

noni 11:29

you dumb a$$ cheap foreign labor is not a tradition started or promoted by liberal democrats.

Anonymous said...

Right. That policy was bought and paid for during the Bush years by Chamber of Commerce lobbyists. Thomas Jefferson was right: "A merchant has no country."

Anonymous said...

DOL used to enforce the 20% local hire rule by threatening to take away the privilege of hiring aliens away fron employers who didn't comply. Now that the Feds control alien labor, what will Cinta do to enforce her new scheme? Jail employers? Fine them? That ought to make her even more popular than she is now. And what an excellent idea to persecute the few remaining employers on island as part of her vain power play. Hopefully the Legislature has had enough of Cinta and Schemer's psychoses.

Anonymous said...

I think that contract workers should have the same opportunity at green cards as everyone else, no more, no less, except for the fact that they are here working and can avail themeselves of that opportunity. That said, this is just the local politicans trying to scrape some pride off the sidewalk. Reminds me of the knight in Monty Python that has all of his arms and legs cut off and begs for more. All this is going to do is embarrass them (and unfortunately the people of the CNMI)more.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:09 You are exactly right! Are they going to have trained DOL personnel going into the community as enforcers to make sure all the foreigners have their CNMI Foriegn National IDs on them and all the businesses have met their quotas. They seriously have no control over this.

I think the legislature will pass the law. It was introduced by the Covenant Party. I can't find it on line. If anyone has a copy please send one my way.

Is the Chamber backing this?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 4:20 Well said. I agree.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Cinta and the new "Yes Sir" man for the Administration is this: the constant polarization between "local"/ U.S. Citizen or Resident Workers vs. Contract or Foreign Workers. CNMI Labor should be about equal opportunity for those whom are competent and qualified.

Who will hire a non-qualified local? Likewise, who will hire an incompetent foreign worker? If the Employer pays fair wages and offers opportunities, he/she is the draw.

The real question is which company in the Chamber of Commerce exemplifies the best practices of employment from both sides' perspective? Hyatt? PIC?

Anonymous said...

If Cinta is doing this to spite the contract workers then she is wrong, but if she is doing it to protect American workers in America, then she should get it done.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in the CNMI is confuse with regards to GW status except Cinta.

Anonymous said...

11:35 Do you mean Cinta is CONFUSING everyone?

Anonymous said...

No confusion. Her hatred of Americans is
surpassed only by her hatred of alien workers.

Anonymous said...

noni 8:40

Protect the American workers from what? They don't need protection. If they are skilled and qualified, they will get open jobs. If they are not, let the foreign worker do them.