The CNMI Department of Labor has been scrutinizing all hiring practices of local companies to make sure they comply with U.S. and local labor laws.
Labor Secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune that employers are required to submit a declaration for every individual that applies for any job opening as stated under one of the sections of the CNMI labor law.
“But with respect to our local labor law, there’s a section there that requires an employer to submit a declaration for every person that applies for the job and we also review that as well,” said Deleon Guerrero.
“It is not just a blanket or a quick certification of the [job vacancy announcement] for the employer to submit for the petition but we have to go through the rigorous process of Labor market testing to make sure they are in compliance with all the requirements of posting the JVA and are considering all qualified U.S. citizens for the job.”
“And also, the declaration to make sure they are not just ‘blanketly’ denying the person for the job not to take it. These are the areas that we look at the back end at the department. So there’s a lot of serious work going through as we review the JVAs.”
She said reports of residents or U.S. citizens that don’t go to their interviews may have different reasons why they failed to appear. “I think there are different situations for every individual. The Workforce Opportunity Innovation Act…is not a recommendation, it is the law.”
“U.S. citizens must be given the priority for the jobs they are qualified for. And companies that are recruiting foreign workers, they are required by state law to post on the CNMI [Labor] job bank. The same goes with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services where local employers must also comply with U.S. and local labor laws.”
Deleon Guerrero vowed to continue her department’s program of going up against employers who dupe their workers and commit other labor violations. “I encourage employees who might have felt that they are shortchanged by their employers to file a complaint.”
“I really encourage employees out there that feel they are cheated by their wages, have other labor issues that they experience, or there’s something they know about to come to our department. We are here to work with them and to make sure that their rights are protected.”
Last month, Labor collected $1,360,267 in unpaid wages and overtime pay that businesses did not give to their employees. “We collected over $1 million last month and we will continue to do the same thing.”
“We’re happy that we have built the confidence in the community for employees to come up to our department and file complaints of abuses and non-payment. We do go after employers that are not paying the wages properly and we will apply penalties.”