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.Hard-working employees deserve to be paid! Is this establishment surviving by not paying its employees?
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.”
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