IPI, MCC enter agreement

MCC International and the U.S. Department of Labor reportedly entered a settlement agreement to address the remaining illegal Chinese workers that have been recently evicted from the dormitories where they’ve been staying.

In a statement from Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, MCC International and the USDOL have reportedly entered into an agreement to address the fates of the remaining six Chinese workers illegally recruited by IPI’s main contractor, MCC International.

The statement said, though, that IPI was not aware of the terms surrounding the settlement agreement between MCC and the USDOL.

However the statement said that IPI remains “hopeful” that USDOL would soon address the amounts owed the remaining six workers on Saipan. “Imperial Pacific is not privy to the terms of the settlement agreement; however, Imperial Pacific is pleased that a settlement has been reached to settle the workers’ claims,” the statement said.

Saipan Tribune was informed of the settlement agreement after asking for a statement regarding the Chinese worker advocacy groups that have been reaching out to IPI. The Chinese worker advocacy groups have been urging IPI to address the wages owed the illegal workers.

Saipan Tribune learned over the weekend that the China Labor Bulletin, a non-governmental Chinese worker advocate group based in Hong Kong, sent a letter to IPI, urging the company to take care of the compensation owed the remaining six workers on Saipan.

The letter was addressed to Carman Chow of IPI.

“We are alarmed at [IPI’s] attempts to shirk responsibility for the workers on its project and the attempts to place the blame on the project’s subcontractors,” stated the letter.

“[IPI] is ultimately responsible for the labor conditions and rights abuses that occur at its construction projects. It is disgraceful that workers have been pressured to return to China and pursue the money they are owed on their own,” added the letter.

The letter is the second of two addressed to the same person at IPI. The first was from the China Labor Watch, another Chinese worker advocacy group that is based in New York. This non-governmental organization urged IPI to pay the workers based on the money owed them and pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that both the direct employer and the company that contracted them are equally responsible for their employee’s wages.

Li Qiang, executive director of CLW, urged IPI to pay the workers the amounts rightfully owed them, which she said should include extra due to provisions in the FLSA that claim employees who fail to receive their wages in a timely manner are entitled to liquidated damages.

IPI did not respond to Saipan Tribune’s request for a statement regarding Li’s letter nor did they confirm that they received both letters from the Chinese worker advocacy groups.

Both worker advocacy groups reached out to IPI after Hong Kong media reported on the situation of the Chinese workers.

Evicted from building

The six remaining Chinese workers moved out of their apartment in Garapan over the weekend. IPI had been paying for the dormitories “on humanitarian grounds.”

In a letter late Nov. 2017, IPI legal representative Sean Frink informed the remaining workers that they had a month’s time to accept IPI’s offer to address their wages, which also included their repatriation to China. In the letter, Frink said that if the workers decline the offer or if they fail to respond, IPI’s humanitarian support would cease and that IPI’s payment offer would be withdrawn.

Also, in late November 2017, Metro Times LLC, the owner of the building that housed the workers, informed the six remaining workers that, after receiving confirmation that the investigation on their case is over, the workers had a month to move out.

A notice posted in the worker’s dormitory by Metro Times informed the workers that electricity would be cut, any items found will be thrown out, and anyone still in there would be arrested for trespassing.

The notice was reportedly posted last Thursday evening.

The six reportedly declined the offer. The CNMI Department of Labor was involved in the calculations of their wages.

According to a source familiar with the Chinese workers, several of the workers have sought out the “cheapest living quarters” available, which includes a metal shack without access to hot water or a proper shower. The shack reportedly costs $300 a month and the workers are reportedly paying with borrowed money.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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