Thirteen workers from the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. and two staff from the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. may be among those that might not be able to renew their CNMI-only transitional worker status as the cap for fiscal year 2016 was reached earlier this month.
According to CUC acting executive director Gary Camacho, the 12 workers from the power plant and one from the water and waste water engineering division are up for renewal prior to the next fiscal year which starts on Oct. 1, 2016.
Of those 13, seven will have their status expire in June, three in July, two in August, and one in September.
Earlier this year, CUC also experienced being caught in CW woes as about 20 of their power plant workers who were up for renewal got delayed because of late submission of documents.
CUC did not have a human resources manager then, but has hired Andrew Orsini since to address their HR needs particularly the CW petitions.
Camacho said he is not sure if the papers of the 13 workers were processed or filed already.
“We are in the process of preparing all the documentations,” Camacho said.
“All I know is that we have 13 workers that obviously we have to renew soon,” he added.
The are a total of 32 CW workers in the power plant.
According to Camacho, not having these workers renewed will have a big impact on the power plant’s operations.
“These people are highly trained and highly qualified people that we really need,” Camacho said.
“These are power plant personnel with many years of experience,” he added.
Camacho said it is “imperative that we do everything we can to keep them in the program.”
“We need to continue them forward as we continue to develop our non-CW worker staff,” he said.
Asked how what they are going to do should the workers get caught in the cap, Camacho said, “We are going to look into ways in ensuring their continued assistance to the corporation and it’s important that we make an effort to make sure that our program continues to function properly.”
However, there were no clear directions yet on how CUC will pursue this, and when asked if they will be willing to adjust the status of their workers, Camacho said “I don’t know.”
“There is no real discussion on what direction we’re going to go but that should all transpire over the next few days,” Camacho said.
The hospital, on the other hand, has only identified two staff so far that might be affected by the cap breach.
CHCC chief executive officer Esther Muna told Saipan Tribune that they continue to review and determine the impact of the USCIS announcement.
“CHCC HR is currently reviewing the USCIS cap announcement to determine the impact on its CW workforce and the services CHCC provides to the community,” Muna said.
“We may have two staff CW applications that may be rejected,” she added.
Muna did not specify which department of the hospital the two staff work for, however, earlier interviews with Nursing director Leslie Camacho said that a big batch of nurses would be requiring CW renewals around July of this year.
Though undetermined if those nurses already had their papers processed, Camacho earlier assured that they are working on the renewals “even earlier than the prescribed 90 days in advance.”
Out of the hospital’s 152 nurses, more than 80 percent, or about 127 are CW workers.
According to Muna, they will have no choice but to comply with the law.
“We will have to comply but I agree with the other businesses. It never gave us a chance to try to avoid this situation,” Muna said. “Now we have to pay overtime to cover for those affected.”
Muna said they will “work with the leaders” in addressing the CW issue.