Fitial to Bring Deflated Agenda to DC

February 6, 2011

The latest posturing and talk by CNMI leaders in light of the recent CNMI Senate draft report will have little impact on decisions made by the U.S. Congress.  However, they certainly have underscored some of the CNMI's leaders' attitudes towards foreign workers and highlighted their agenda.

The governor has maintained the same priorities and agenda for decades: Coming in first on his agenda is his quest for wealth and power; second is to protect family and political allies; and third is to maintain indigenous rights while suppressing the rights of others.

When the U.S. Congress does decide status for the long-term foreign workers (and it probably will not be for while considering the current makeup of the Congress with a Republican House and Democratic Senate) that status will be based on U.S. principles, not some CNMI leaders' wishes based on an self-serving agenda that has tarnished the reputation of the United States.

As the DOI Report stated, "Consistent with the goals of comprehensive immigration reform, we recommend that the Congress consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum period of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States."

Local and federal labor and immigration laws that promote indentured servitude and regard guest workers as replaceable commodities must be replaced with laws that provide for the rights of all the people who call the CNMI home.

Unfortunately, the governor has always viewed the foreign workers as disposable commodities, rather than as future citizens. In fact, the governor brags that  he was responsible for devising the very dysfunctional and unjust system that brought in the foreign workers and systematically denied them of rights and allowed the thefts of their wages.

Today's Marianas Variety quoted the governor underscoring the fact that he views nonresident workers as commodities, and second, or perhaps even third-class citizens:
Whatever skills the commonwealth doesn’t have, he added, “we should get from outside.”

“But if you are to create competition between my people and outsiders, that is one thing I will never support,” the governor said.

He said there should be a concerted effort on the part of all CNMI leaders to train the local workforce.

But he said guest workers who have the skills the CNMI does not have “deserve to stay and continue to work here if they want.”

Fitial recalled that when he sponsored the nonresident workers law in the early 1980s, there was only one objective and that was to provide the CNMI with job skills it didn’t have so it could build and expand its economy.
It may be argued that it is correct to consider that residents or 'locals' be placed in positions before enlisting foreigners to fill jobs, but 'locals first' is illegal and discriminatory.  Fitial himself brought in the foreigners who are now actual community members with most having resided in the CNMI for so long. How can people who have lived in a place for years and even decades be considered "outsiders"? Some have lived in the CNMI longer than the 18 year old residents who can vote, while they cannot. Give jobs to the most skilled and most qualified regardless of nationality or status and everyone will benefit.

Fitial still claims that he wants to maintain local control of labor. That won't happen.  The mess created by that unsavory and corrupt program will go down in history as one of the worse nonresident worker programs ever on U.S. soil outside of slavery. No bill that endorses or gives any power to the dysfunctional CNMI Department of Labor will ever pass the U.S. Congress.

Fitial was quoted in the Saipan Tribune:
“I will only work toward extending the umbrella permit for those skills that we need. Now they are under umbrella permit; if it takes an extension of umbrella permit to secure their staying, I will do it,” he added.

But Fitial said once there is enough local manpower to provide the services needed by the CNMI economy, then the local government will also have to let go of skilled foreign workers.
Governor Fitial cannot "extend" umbrella permits or make any other decisions concerning status for the foreign workforce; only the United States government can. The local government has no longer has control over what foreigner stays and who goes. The CNRA provision stating "that the foreign workforce would be reduced to zero by 2014" (unless extended) does not mean that the CNMI will be left without enough workers to fill essential jobs. I believe that the intent was that the present long-term nonresident workers would be granted green cards or outright U.S. citizenship so there would be little need to continue a large and expensive guest worker program. It does not mean that the CNMI would be denied workers, it means that the program would not be needed.

Fitial also intends to bully his way into pushing his agenda on the CNMI Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan:
“His job in the Congress — that’s the 902 right there,” Fitial said adding that he will meet Sablan as soon as he visits Washington D.C.

“I’m going to give him a lot of work. I will work with Kilili whether he likes it or not,” Fitial said.
I can imagine that Kilili has not forgotten the governor's endorsement of the election improprieties, Fitial's snubbing of the Congressman when he visited DC over the last two years, and Fitial's unrelenting bashing of Kilili.  I doubt if the Congressman will submit to bullying by the likes of the governor.

There is a severe disconnect with reality and Fitial's agenda. His local labor system only survived for as long as it did because of the isolation of the CNMI and ignorance of Washington leaders. Today we can get our message out to the world in seconds and challenge any lies and propaganda coming from the CNMI leaders immediately. Gone are the days when CNMI leaders can pull the wool over the eyes of Uncle Sam. The CNMI now lacks the finances to hire lobbyists to lie for them or exchange votes for campaign donations in Washington, DC. The self-promoting CNMI agenda of local dominance has deflated and will never be revived.

While Fitial continues to publicly promote his plans of pushing his agenda in Washington, DC in coming weeks, he would be wise to remember that he, and the CNMI under his failed leadership, has lost something very valuable on the Hill -- credibility.  After decades of lies, schemes, alignment with felons, corruption, misuse of federal funds, fed bashing and outrageous personal behavior, the governor cannot possibly push his agenda there among reasonable officials. The American people and members of the U.S. Congress remain outraged by the unethical and questionable antics described vividly in the international press, magazines articles like Reader's Digest's Shame on U.S. Soil by Henry Hurt, television news shows such as 20/20 -The Shame of Saipan by Brian Ross and Oxygen Network's Behind the Labels; books including Nobodies by John Bowie, and the bestseller, The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank;  PBS documentaries such as Capital Crimes by Bill Moyers, NPR news features including The Abramoff-Delay-Marianas Connections, and full-length award-winning movies, including Alex Gibney's Casino Jack and the United States of Money and the late George Hickenlooper's Casino Jack. For every lie and false promise that Fitial tosses out, there are those who will shoot them down by providing documentation to decision makers to expose the truth. 

Another consideration is the fact that that the Abramoff-Delay-Fitial-Tan lie machine left many lost elections in their wake.  Advocates and those supporting human and civil rights campaigned and worked tirelessly to oust members of Congress who accepted campaign donations in exchange for voting to favor Abramoff clients including the CNMI.  Former Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), former Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), former Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), and former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) are among those who have been credited with losing elections because of the Abramoff-CNMI connections.  Other truly corrupt former Congressional members such as former Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) and former Rep, Tom Delay (R-TX) wisely decided not to run for re-election or resigned in disgrace. Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) landed in prison. Let's not forget Abramoff-Fitial pal, Ralph Reed who lost the Georgia lt. governor primary race after advocates exposed his CNMI Abramoff-Fitial connections. Does Fitial think that members of Congress don't remember his poisonous effect on their friends' election races? Those who align themselves with Fitial's agenda will be targeted mercilessly in the next agenda by unrelenting advocates who will remind them of the abuses under the CNMI system and the lies promoted by lobbying dollars and unethical schemes.

The "my people over foreigners" statements made by Fitial and others creates division and confusion within the community.  The local people are not unemployed merely because Fitial and others brought in tens of thousands of skilled workers to perform jobs. They are unemployed because many are untrained and the CNNI government failed for decades to push training programs; because locals have preferred the luxury of holding a government job that requires little skill or work ethic, but pays fair wages compared to the private sector jobs; because most do not want to work for the low CNMI minimum wage, which would result in below poverty level earnings; and because many private sector jobs offer few benefits such as health insurance and retirement. Many elements of the CNMI job situation will need to be reformed before locals are willing to accept positions in the private sector.

Furthermore, even if every "local" citizen were to be employed in the private sector, there would still not be enough (as Fitial declared in his anti-fed lawsuit) local workers to fill all the essential positions and more "outside" workers would be needed.  That is the reality.

The statements made by some CNMI politicians promote a status that requires many more years of residency in the CNMI until nonresidents would receive a pathway to citizenship, or they propose disenfranchisement in the form of an FAS-type status as an acceptable status for nonresident workers. There is no law that can ever be made to force the skilled foreign workers to stay in the CNMI.  If the leaders truly want a stable and skilled workforce they may want to consider that any status proposal should be created to maintain the loyal and dependable one that they have in the CNMI right now.

Fitial and other CNMI politicians should also be reminded that the CNMI is not now, and has never been worker heaven for most foreign workers.  It is very difficult to find a foreign worker who has ever worked in the CNMI who has not been cheated of wages by their employer, has not had illegal deductions, was not made to pay for their own medical treatment, or has never suffered a contract violation of some sort. It is also difficult to locate a foreign worker who did not feel the sting of discrimination while working in the CNMI.  The nonresidents workers have been leaving the CNMI to accept jobs in other countries that offer pathways to citizenship including Australia, Canada and the United States. Many more will follow depending on existing and future job opportunities, and the form of improved status that is finally enacted.

My prediction is that PL 110-229 won't be undone or significantly amended, if at all. The CNMI government will not retain local control of the abusive labor system, and long-term nonresidents will eventually be given status that includes a pathway to U.S. citizenship.


Anonymous said...

Good points. Fitial is looked on like a fool. It's embarrassing for him to go to DC as our leader.

sammy said...

I don't know any alien worker that doesn't hope for US citizen status as 1st choice. Some us us without children can't ever hope to get that status unless the congress passes a good status with citizenship for every long-term aliens.

Anonymous said...

Everyday i read what this governor says i get sick. i am one outsider who lived in the NMI for 26 years. if we don't get US status soon i'm looking for the door out. can you post how to get jobs in the US and other places?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:38

Yes, I will write a post on opportunities in the US and other countries.

Anonymous said...

Fitial's brain is deflated. Look at the number of vacant job listed at DOL:
a total of TEN! It's the economy stupid! There are no jobs for anyone whether local or not.

Anonymous said...

Why is Fitial even going to DC when his back is so bad that he has to rent a SUV because his other car hurts him? He's having another operation. Maybe the guy should step down already.

Anonymous said...

Fitial brags about being the daddy of the local labor system, but he won't take responsibility for the fact that it messed up the NMI in every way from the outer appearance to the economy. Why don't locals have jobs? Because of Fitial and the greedy political goons who profited from the labor system that brought in aliens to kept wages in the toilet so they could fatten their wallets. When the feds pulled the plug they couldn't accept it so they file a lawsuit and blame the US for everything bad that they ever did. Now he says he'll force Kilili to do what he wants. Them are fighting words and he's in no shape to fight.

Anonymous said...

I have another reason why locals don't have jobs. I manage a large company in the CNMI and I have a very sorry story to tell.
Many of the locals I have hired I have had to fire for dishonesty. They have stole money and done other things that hurt our business. To be sure, I have had a few non-indigenous (we have 94% "local" hire) do some dishonest things, but not nearly at the rate the Chamorro's do.
After I fire them they get another job, usually with the Government. I have never, I repeat NEVER, had a Government official call me for a reference. And some of these people worked here for at least two years.
Does anyone in the Government ever try to get a reference when it concerns a local person. Does it matter? After all, they need a job so why go looking for trouble.
In the local culture it does not seem to be a big negative to steal from your company. So many people have done it that it is hard to throw stones at others.
I don't hire "locals" unless I absolutely have to, which I usually don't. To many family members saying "Get this for me" or "You work for ___. Do this for me. No one will know?" I don't need that and neither does my company.

Anonymous said...

Even one of the support staff at the OAG steals toilet paper, large cardboard cases at a time.

Time card fraud is rampant in the government, and if you report it, nothing happens.

Anonymous said...

11:07 - As a manager of a large company, you would know then, that EEOC regulations prohibit you from disclosing any information over the telephone, or in writing, to another employer, that may prevent your former employee from acquiring employment. You may withhold a reference letter, and that is all.

But then you knew that right?

Your business, and specifically hiring practices, are part of the mix of what's wrong here. Our problems weren't caused solely by government. In fact, the government was merely a tool to further business interests, which included the ability to recruit cheap labor. Your nonsense about thievery amongst local employees is just that, nonsense. You put it out to help bolster the argument for continued cheap labor.

You've also just admitted to absolutely illegal discriminatory hiring practices, which are based on ethnicity.

How about businesses start investing in this community? That includes everyone currently in this community, be they Chamorro, Carolinian, Filipino, or Korean.

Some kindly advice.. your companies going to end up broke one day if you don't follow EEOC regs and Labor laws. You should read up on them, before you have the pants sued off of you.

Anonymous said...

How about a citation to the regulation? I don't believe EEOC would prevent the communication of accurate information concerning, for example, a former employee having stolen from your business.

Anonymous said...

EEOC regulations prohibit you from disclosing any information over the telephone, or in writing, to another employer, that may prevent your former employee from acquiring employment. You may withhold a reference letter, and that is all.

Which particular regulation are you referring to?

To my understanding, this is so only if the termination is based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, or other invidious discrimination, or if a charge making such allegations has been filed with the EEOC.

Is there an EEOC prohibition on truthful reporting of a former employee's performance? Of course, it can't be a pretext for discrimination, or otherwise retaliatory for protected lawful conduct, including improvement of labor conditions.

The real danger may be a possible suit for libel or tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. That could be why so many employers prefer not to say anything, and why the background checks you accuse of the CNMI government of neglecting can be so useless.

From the comments about "many" thieving locals, it does seem like the company is skating on thin ice with respect to discrimination against indigenous persons.

Anonymous said...

1:42 is correct. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regs do not permit a former employer from divulging any written or oral statements that may have negative bearing on a job applicant's potential employment.

I don't have my EEOC manual on me, but their reps pound that in to us every time they hold a training here. We have been told that to be safe, it is best only to disclose the date of hire and the length of service, and to withhold a letter of recommendation if we were not happy with their performance.

Anonymous said...

There are actually not 10 vacant jobs. Today, Feburary 9, 2011, there are a total of 17 "vacancies", 10 renewals, 4 transfers, and 3 new positions. The Hafa Adai hotel is hiring a front desk clerk and "prefer" the applicant speak, write and read chinese at minimum wage of $5.05/hr. Kan Pacific has 2 openings. One for a driver over 25 yrs old, with a minimum of 2 years experience, and front desk clerk for $5.05 with a minimum of 1 year hotel desk clerk experience.

CHC has hundreds of nurses whose contracts are coming up for renewal within the next month that will not be advertised at all.

Anon 2/8 11:07 is not alone. The majority of employers including CUC and DPH try not to hire local workers if they can help it. The local department of labor actually loses money if a local worker is hired, and they have no incentive to increase local employment unless there is a political component involved.

Businesses are lucky that most unemployed locals don't comprehend how prevailing wages protect local workers and stop abuse among foreign workers. That is what federalization was all about.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of commenters on this blog like to make up "the law."

When in doubt, consult a lawyer and ask to see the law or regulations yourself.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to make up the law, but I know that I want to hire the best person possible and not someone that is going to give me trouble.
When hiring, look them up on Facebook. Nothing illegal about that. When giving a reference for a bad employee I usually say "By Law I cannot say anything about Mr. John E.Santos (made up) in regards to his employment". If they ask me another question I say the same thing. Perfectly legal and gets your point across to the person asking that they need to ask more questions. When I use this approach with stateside people I can all but guarantee that the person will not get hired.

Anonymous said...

1:35 Ten jobs a couple days ago and 17 listed today. And how many people do they need to oversee those 17 jobs? 46!

Anonymous said...

There were zero jobs a week ago and zero jobs today. A renewal is not a vacancy. A transfer is not a vacancy. And jobs with specific requirements such as speaking fluent chinese or specific experience are only for show. The "new" jobs already have a specific person in mind and if someone applies, the job will have already been filled. Businesses and the CNMI government are not trying to replace loyal employees with local workers. If they have a dishones non-resident employees, or one who doesn't show up for work because he was arrested in Guam, then a local may be considered.

Employers discriminate all over the U.S., and it is extremely difficult to prove an EEOC complaint unless you have testers that are of different races and have similar resumes with education and work experience. Even in controlled situations, it is still difficult to prove.

Anonymous said...

There is no federal law or EEOC regulation that would prevent a former employer from giving accurate information about the job performance/suitability for employment of an applicant to a prospective employer.

Anonymous said...

On any prospective hire, I always go down to the clerk of court and get copies of any court records on the individual concerning arrest and convictions.(if any)
This is all public record and available to anybody.

In all of the cases, except for two, that turned up, the applicants had lied on the application about any arrest and/or convictions.
That in itself is enough to deny an applicant.
I usually bring out the copies of the court records during the scheduled interview.

Uncle Sammey, he say said...

CNMI "leaders" wanted CNMI garment industry.
CNMI "leaders" accepted CNMI garment immigration/labor abuse.
CNMI garment industry destroyed CNMI tourism.
CNMI garment industry destroyed CNMI infrastructure.
CNMI garment industry destroyed CNMI reputation.
CNMI garment industry destroyed U.S. garment industry.
CNMI "leaders" expect U.S. to pay?
Uncle Sammy, he say: " way'!".

H.A. Ole'