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TO AVOID TERMINATION OF 180 EMPLOYEES

Lawmaker asks Civil Service Commission to amend the reduction-in-force policy

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Sen. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) has requested the Civil Service Commission to amend the reduction-in-force policy to prevent the job termination of 180 furloughed employees.

In her letter to CSC chair Jake Maratita last Wednesday, Santos said the reduction-in-force policy would further devastate economic conditions of many families in the Commonwealth.

While she understands the position taken by the administration of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, the senator said the government must step back and consider other alternatives because the current reduced work hours and the unrecalled furloughed employees alone have resulted in great financial hardships to many families.

As an alternative, she asked Maratita to look at the NMI Administrative Code Section 10-20.2-267 (a) that states that “The Personnel Officer may use furloughs for more than 30 days if there is reasonable assurance that the [furloughed] employees will be returned to duty within the next 12 months.”

Santos said the code should be amended to change “12 months” to “24 months.”

“In extending the furlough duration, it gives the Commonwealth time to maintain its workers, revive its economic conditions by implementing economic alternatives, and time for the federal government’s assistance to get to the Commonwealth,” she said.

The senator asked CSC to expedite action on this concern.

In his recent letter to Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) and House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (R-Saipan), Torres said it would require $5,688,239 in fiscal year 2021 to fully fund the 180 furloughed employees so that they may be called back to their posts.

Torres noted that the one year since the employees were furloughed is coming to the end and, due to the economic conditions, the administration finds it necessary to initiate reduction-in-force procedures.

Santos noted that the Biden administration is new and aggressively pushing legislations to assist people who were laid off, furloughed, or working under reduced hours.

She said Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) recently disclosed that appropriate amendments were made to the Reconciliation Bill that would provide $160 million for K-12 education, the Northern Marianas College is expected to get twice what is received a few months ago, and more importantly, the Torres administration should receive $500 million.

Furthermore, Santos said, H.R. 836, the Employment Services and Jobs Parity Act amends the Wagner-Peyser Act to include the Marianas.

The senator said the positive developments in the Capitol and President Joe R. Biden’s acknowledgment that the pandemic negatively impacted not only the states but also the U.S. territories and the CNMI, gives the Commonwealth hope that help is coming.

At the same time, she said, the CNMI government must help so that families are not further impacted by imposing further reduction in work hours, further furloughs, and most, especially, imposing reduction-in-force.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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