Benavente: Still no response on CW-1 PUA eligibility

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The CNMI Department of Labor reports that they have yet to hear from the Office of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-Saipan) in response to their inquiry whether CNMI-Only Transitional Workers qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

According to Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente, she has not heard directly from Sablan but, according to his staff, he would be contacting the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary directly, Eugene Scalia, regarding the CW-1 issue with PUA.

However, CNMI DOL has yet to receive any updates on the matter since last week Wednesday.
“I have not spoken with Delegate Kilili but I have spoken to the staff of Kilili and I was informed that he would be contacting the U.S. DOL Secretary regarding CW-1 issues for PUA eligibility so after that conversation I have not received a response,” she said.
Back on June 15, Benavente informed Sablan of the need to pass legislation to make contract workers in the CNMI, also called CNMI-Only Transitional Workers, eligible for PUA and FPUC because the CARES Act is silent on any exceptions for foreign workers. Still, Benavente is encouraging CW-1 holders to apply for PUA.

Additionally, DOL has added four new phone lines to the PUA hotline because many have voiced their frustrations about not being able to reach the initial six lines. “We added four more lines because we were getting challenges with the telephone where the callers would call in and they would hear a ringing sound and that was actually a call waiting,” she said.
The newly added phone lines are open to PUA applicants to ask for assistance in filling out PUA applications. Benavente said applicants may also visit the DOL office on Capitol Hill for inquiries on the application or to follow up applications that have already been submitted.
“We can assist PUA applicants when you come up to the department. We will assist you with your inquiries like how, how long, how much but please, be patient, we are trying to assist everyone,” she said.

The additional PUA hotlines are: 670-664-3296; 670-664-3297; 670-664-3299; and 670-664-3296.
You may also contact 989-9089; 989-9090; 989-9080; 989-9081; 989-9083; 989-9084.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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