Cheating at the Casino


February 15, 2011

Are officials in the CNMI in denial, uncaring or just unable to investigate and correct problems? This line from the proposed draft Senate report suggests that some may be in denial:
"The implication that the Commonwealth was a place of rampant labor abuse by a federal agency causes great anxiety. While there were instances of labor abuse, it was neither systematic, commonplace or ignored."
The statement is disturbing because there were and still are systematic, commonplace and ignored labor abuses occurring every day in the CNMI.  There is extensive documentation to prove the extent of the abuses, including the DOL-issued Administrative Orders that indicate that over $6.1 million is still owed to employees by their cheating thief employers.

Over the years, many foreign workers have reported that they have been told by employers that they must accept what they can afford to pay (a wage lower than the legal minimum wages), pay for their own medical costs, and keep quiet about delayed paychecks.  To complain is likely to result in retaliatory threats and actions.

Since the economy has crashed, foreign workers have taken an even bigger hit in their paychecks with an increase of workers seeing their hours reduced, illegal deductions, and delayed or unpaid wages. Nurses recently complained that their housing allowance was not paid.

For months, I have reported that the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino has failed to pay their foreign workers on time. The news media picked it up the story, which was also reported in the Saipan Tribune in December 2010. However no local or federal agencies have issued statements or responded to the violations, according to the foreign workers. Are officials refusing to investigate or turning a blind eye to protect the employer? Maybe they just don't care because when have there ever been consequences for failing to enforce law? What’s the deal?

I received a message yesterday saying that the Tinian Dynasty owes the workers for four pay periods! That is a whopping two months or eight weeks these employees have worked and not been paid! Yesterday the employees received their pay for the pay period covering December 4 to December 17, 2010. They are still waiting to be paid for the periods of December 18 to January 1, 2011, January 2 to January 14, 2011, January 15 to January 28, 2011, January 29 to February 11, 2011. How can these employees even afford to buy food? No systematic, commonplace or ignored abuses they say? Hardly a true statement.

The management acknowledged that the casino is struggling. In a September 2010 Marianas Variety article General Manager Tom Lui denied the establishment was closing, as had been rumored:
The $135 million Tinian Dynasty, which opened in 1998, has yet to make a profit.

But Liu said “Tinian Dynasty is doing okay. We have our ways to survive. Although not so easy, we have overcome many obstacles.”

Dynasty has hard-working employees, he added.

He said they are recovering their investment “slowly but surely.”
Hard-working employees deserve to be paid! Is this establishment surviving by not paying its employees?

The Tinian Dynasty also owes the IRS $103,091.41. A federal tax lien has been placed on the property. The situation must be dismal.

In January 2009, the Commonwealth Development Authority (CDA) stated that the hotel’s qualifying certificate should be revoked for “not complying with the program's requirements, including “tax issues,” environmental concerns, and violations of the American Disabilities Act as stated in the approved certificate.”

The business is obviously struggling. Still that is not excuse for failing to pay the employees. Please someone help these people collect their wages!

Other posts on this issue:
Fireworks at the Tinian Dynasty
Unlucky at the Casino

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the mainland the officials would go out and investigate right after a story like this broke in the press. Not in the CNMI! JOKERS!

Anonymous said...

What on earth is the U.S. Department of Labor doing?!

That is some whopping (not “whooping”) unpaid wages. I'd be whooping if I faced that arrearage, but I can understand guest workers not complaining and “hoping for the best” so as not to be let go.

This is a tough situation all around. An employer can't pay what they don't have. Should they be more prompt in laying off employees?

wendy said...

Anonymous 9:42 Thanks (dyslexic)!

They need to be paid.

TAGLISH said...

This report says the true picture here. There’s a lot more to add to this and all of these abuses happened and is obviously continuing, simply because victims feel so helpless, so scared of retaliation, oftentimes they opted to keep their jobs than nothing at all. The crooks are on the rise taking advantage of this situation. Does it really need to be reported or file complaints/lawsuit to stop or prevent this from happening? Abuse is evidently happening here but why nobody, no government office interferes? It’s futile to ask this from this local government because they are sometimes the perpetrators.

Wendy said...

Taglish:

Exactly! The workers know that the crooks are on the rise. The employers know. The community knows. The legislators know. The law enforcement agencies know. The U.S. and CNMI DOL know. Yet no official who could (and should) be proactive, who could (and should) investigate, who could (and should) set an example for all the other crooks by arresting or providing consequences for the offenders do anything! NOTHING IS DONE! It is absolutely infuriating. And no, these poor cheated workers who are so afraid to complain should not have to personally fly to Saipan to go before officials if their problem is public knowledge. (Not to mention that they have no money for airfare.) A truly concerned and engaged official would (and should) investigate and assist without being contacted by the workers who fear retaliation and job loss. The USDOL should have an anonymous tip hotline and employ someone to investigate the tips.

It's not your money! said...

USDOL has no jurisdiction over many small employers, if they fail to meet the $500,000.00 enterprise threshhold.

Anonymous said...

The Tinian Dynasty doesn't meet that threshhosld? I believe it does. If not the NMI Dol needs to act. I agree enough is enough. Why pay salaries of officials who are deaf and blind to abuses?

Anonymous said...

One problem within the Dynasty, for workers to call Saipan and complain, is that all calls have to go through the main switch board. Calls are monitored in the past.
Cell phones cost money, especially when the callers are put on hold.
There are only a couple of places on Tinian that have working payphones that a calling card can be used.(even those many times are inoperable)
Also the NMI Govt. from the beginning, repeatedly gave Dynasty permission to not pay wages on time, so they will not do anything.

In the past if the workers want any money they have to submit a letter to ask for part of their salary. How much and for what reason.
This was for the ones living outside.
I do not know about the ones living in the barracks if this also applies.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:42

The CNMI DOL cannot give permission to any company not to pay their workers on time! It is unlawful. This makes me so angry that tomorrow I am calling officials myself. This is crazy wrong!!!

Anonymous said...

US DOL Wage and Hour Division toll-free information and helpline at 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243)

US DOL office in Saipan is located at Marina Heights II, Suite 205, Puerto Rico; telephone number 233-0740.

Anonymous said...

OMBUDSMAN OFFICE

670 -322-8030

Wendy said...

I called a very helpful official and am totally satisfied that this is being dealt with.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, 10:38, We shall see, this has been going on since a couple of months after the opening of the Dynasty.
They had about 1800 employees upon opening.

It was a big thing in the papers at the time when they asked for relief on the payment of the employees wages.(I forgot what branch of the Govt. allowed it, it may have been the legislature)
Up to that time, all business on Tinian used to "scramble" to make payroll on time.
After Dynasty was "approved" to a delayed payroll (many times)many rest of the business started to practice delayed payroll.
When confronted, their answer was; "If dynasty can do it we can also"
That was back in 1999 I believe.

BTW Dynasty also did not completely pay most of it's contractors from the construction period.
They would wait until a court date was set, then the day before court, enter into a "settlement" to get the court date vacated, then not abide by the settlement. Wait until a court date again and then try the same thing over again.
Even after court judgments against them they still did not pay. (till today)

I cannot research archives from that time as I am on medical, off island.

Been to CNMI seen the clowns that govern said...

This a perfect example of poor local regulation , non-existent checks and balances , and fictitious positive outcomes that were sold in a pipe dream to CNMI legislature by a Chinese firm that truley has zero interest in any one other than themselves.
CNMI placed no milestones of success to be measured , tons of money that should have been held in reserve for the people of Tinian and infrastructure are unaccounted. (Very Guamish) There are no whales landing to gamble on Tinian, and now the Chinese have resorted to addicting the island with cheap toxic methamphetamine dirivatives...the chinese WILL find a way to get your money, they know Uncle Sam hands it out like water to CNMI, thats why they are there...slow money is better than no money. CNMI has never ever been able to balance a budget ,provide for the people without stealing , much less run a fair legislature. this will not stop until the US gets fed up, happening now after Tom Delay got busted for taking payments from CNMI sweat shops, once the US Fed's replace all puppet politicians in CNMI for 5 years, and the corruption has quelled, then and only then will people of the islands reap the benefits of existence under the US. In short, the CNMI does not contain the persons of education and honesty to drive success into the lives of island families and corporations.