June 30, 2014
The governor failed to recognize the contributions and dedication of the thousands of nonresidents who keep the CNMI afloat. No thanks to the people who make up 90% of the private workforce. Not one word.
He did thank U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez for extending the oppressive U.S. CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program for another 5 years. Then he elaborated stating that the CNMI needs to educate its people to take the jobs of the foreign workers when they leave in 2019. The jobs that have been held by the nonresident workers for three and a half decades; the jobs that no locals want to fill.
The governor said:
"We know everyone wants a good job but they also deserve a job that fulfills them and allows them the opportunity to enjoy life without the stress of living paycheck to paycheck."Was that why the governor and Delegate Sablan fought so hard to delay an increase in the minimum wage? The minimum wage in the CNMI is the lowest federal minimum wage on U.S. soil. It remains a pathetic $5.55 an hour. That wage ensures that the workers struggle from paycheck to paycheck and further reinforces the idea of maintaining an oppressed underclass. Perhaps that poverty level wage is justifiable to the CNMI's leaders as long as the majority of the private sector workers who are earning that pitiful hourly rate are the oppressed, disenfranchised foreign workers.
The governor said:
"Who better to service our island in the future than the ones who call it home? The ones who were born here, and whose children will call this place home. We need to foster a generation of workers, people with skill, drive, and passion. This may seem like a dramatic scenario for some employers, but I see it as an opportunity to build the CNMI of tomorrow with the hands we’re guiding today. It is through job growth that our people can get themselves and our government out of a financial rut.""Who better to service our island in the future than the ones who call it home?" The foreign workers who have lived in the CNMI for years and decades call the CNMI their home. Many of them have lived longer in the CNMI than in the countries of their birth. They are people with "skill, drive and passion." In fact, it is the foreign workers who built the CNMI and keep its economy thriving.
Inos made it clear that after 2019 the nonresidents in the CNMI will leave. He said:
"I have directed the Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero to work in conjunction with the Public School System, Northern Marianas College, and other training institutions to develop plans and programs aimed at establishing the citizen workforce we need to fill the labor pool when the extended CW program expires."Good luck finding "citizens" to do the strenuous labor intensive jobs that they have shunned for decades.
Our Department of Labor, through WIA, has been diligent in making sure that the opportunity for our people to find employment is available and consistent. OVR has done so as well, and so has our Department of Commerce. Through their efforts in developing small businesses, they have created 24 new jobs in the past year. People who thought they couldn’t hold down a job because of limited skills and fear of discrimination are now finding the necessary training they need to live independently.Actually, the CNMI Department of Labor is violating federal law, not unlike Arizona and other discriminatory states attempted to do. The difference is that the U.S. Department of Justice turns a blind eye to the CNMI. The local Department of Labor has focused on inspecting businesses to demand that they hire a certain percentage of U.S. citizens. They fine businesses for not complying with unconstitutional regulations such as failing to file a declaration with the department's Citizen Job Placement Section. (See this post, AGAIN, U.S. Immigration Law preempts CNMI Law.)
In pleading with U.S. Labor Secretary Perez to extend the faulty CNMI-only Guest Worker Program, Inos, wealthy business owners, and other elected leaders stated that there were not enough U.S. citizens to replace the foreign workers. Newsflash! There will not be enough in 2019 either.
The private sector is made up of over 90% nonresident workers who are disenfranchised and are routinely denied basic civil, human and political rights. They are grossly underpaid, and are often cheated by their employers. If everyone were to be truthful they would admit that the majority of the positions that nonresident workers have filled for decades are not 'temporary' at all. In fact, there are very few U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the CNMI willing to accept many of the low paying, labor intensive jobs that nonresidents fill. That is why they have been renewed annually year after year to fill those positions.
Even if every U.S. citizen who lives in the CNMI were to accept a position that is now filled by a nonresident worker, numerically, there are just not enough U.S. citizens living in the CNMI to fill every one. Furthermore, there are not enough U.S. citizens in the CNMI who have the skills needed to fill many of the positions. That is the reality.
For the governor to ignore the majority of the CNMI's population when making his address emphasizes the fact that the CNMI's legal nonresidents are unappreciated and regarded as mere labor units rather than human beings.
The CNMI does not deserve them.