The CNMI Department of Labor is urging all businesses and employers to inform them if they plan to either lay off some of their workers or cut working hours after Super Typhoon Yutu devastated the islands last month.
Labor Secretary Vicky Benavente said that businesses or employers should notify them of their intention in writing, with all the details “like how many hours, how many employees, and what positions. All the details.”
“That information that they would give us would also update the data that we have. So, that we tell the U.S. [DOL], our federal partners, that ‘here we are, we have an economy that was basically destroyed. These are the reasons and positions that were affected.’”
That data would help CNMI DOL inform their federal partners of the CNMI’s needs. “Like how much help that we need out here. It is really important that businesses put down everything in writing and notify [local] Labor. And we, in return, would relay this information to our federal partners.”
There are at least 10 companies that have already notified local Labor in writing of their plans to reduce their operating hours and lay off or terminate employment of some of their workers.
Some have no guests in hotels, fewer restaurant patrons, or any other reason that affected their business after Yutu.
“Right now, there are people who don’t have money. And if they have anything to spare, they either have their homes fixed or repair their cars,” said Benavente.
Benavente said the CNMI DoL’s Workforce Investment Agency has also received a $2,762,345 grant, the National Dislocated Worker Grant (former National Emergency Grant) that would financially assist affected workers who are eligible U.S. citizens..
“We are going to prioritize workers to put them, for example, in debris removal positions because that’s what’s badly needed at this point in time,” she said.
“And then later, there will be grants for unemployment assistance for workers who have nowhere else to go or do. We will help them financially with the first NDW grant. The second will be the [Disaster Unemployment Assistance].”
Both are federal grants that CNMI Labor applied for and they are hoping they could get $1 million or more from the DUA.