IPI’s CWs opt to leave

Unsettled about their future labor and immigration status, many of the foreign workers of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC chose not to renew their contracts and opted to leave the CNMI, according to a senior company official.

Speaking at last week’s Commonwealth Casino Commission meeting, IPI human relations vice president Bertha Leon Guerrero said it was hard for their CW1 employees to plan their future on Saipan.

“A lot of them are thinking, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be approved. It’s hard to make a future for them,” she added.

Leon Guerrero said that most of their foreign workers chose not to renew their contracts due to the uncertainty of their employment status in the Commonwealth.

IPI, like other businesses in the CNMI, is expected to be affected by the CW1 lottery of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with just 4,999 foreign worker slots available in fiscal year 2019. The number of worker petitions received by USCIS for next fiscal year totaled more than 4,999 and the agency went ahead with the lottery on which petitions would be approved and processed.

IPI, as of April this year, had 1,468 active employees, 44 percent of which are U.S. citizens while 56 percent are non-U.S. citizens.

Leon Guerrero told the casino commission that most of the “separations” that was listed on their report to the CCC are employees under the CW1 program.

“It’s hard for them to plan their future when every year they are not sure if they are going to get renewed or do not know what’s going to happen. A lot of them were just exhausted from that uncertainty,” she said. “Quite a few of them have already left.”

“For the ones that have resigned willingly, majority of their concerns is just the uncertainty of the CW1 program,” said Leon Guerrero, who added that most of those who resigned go to other new casinos, like in the Philippines.

Exerting all efforts

Leon Guerrero said they continue to exert all efforts in hiring locally. In fact, she said, they recently participated in the career fair organized by the Northern Marianas College. “We participated in the NMC Career Fair just to recruit, to inform the local talents that there are opportunities here. We’re trying to get some interest in the internship program. These are some of the ways that we get the word out and let them know.”

She added that there were three NMC students to whom they offered jobs but only one accepted as a part-time employee, while the other two declined.

“It’s really not that easy. And they were in food and beverage and finance. Still they were offered job opportunities. We’re trying and we agree that we should encourage our young to consider the gaming industry,” said Leon Guerrero.

Still, she added, IPI will continue with their operations even if they have fewer workers. “If we don’t have enough staffing and if we can’t open 10 tables, then we only open seven. It’s a lot of trying to make sure that we continue our operations based on what we have.”

A total of 170 of their current employees recently took part in anti-money laundering and advanced Excel trainings to improve their skills. A lot have also undergone annual recertifications.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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