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Lawmaker: Govt workers’ grievance complaint must be taken seriously

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Rep. Sheila J. Babauta (D-Saipan) talks during Friday’s House of Representatives’ session about a grievance letter apparently coming from an anonymous government worker who complained about an alleged unprofessional supervisor. Also in the photo are Reps. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan), Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan), and Joseph Lee Pan Guerrero (R-Saipan). (Ferdie De La Torre)

Rep. Sheila J. Babauta (D-Saipan) has notified the House of Representatives during their session Friday that she received a copy of a letter that day from a government employee who has a grievance complaint against his or her supervisor’s for alleged unprofessionalism.

Babauta, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, said that although the letter is unsigned and from someone who wants to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, grievances must be taken seriously.

“It’s very disheartening to hear that in our service members and those who work for our government are experiencing toxic work environment and unhealthy and very abusive work places,” she said at the session.

Babauta said she will be submitting the letter as an official communication to Speaker Edmund Villagomez’s (Ind-Saipan) office so it can be shared and referred to the proper committee and they can address any grievances and follow-up with the proper department for action.

In a statement over the weekend, Babauta said she is disheartened to receive such disturbing news from a member of the government workforce.

Saipan Tribune learned that the letter was addressed to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and a copy was also sent to the Office of Personnel Management Office, Office of the Public Auditor, and to the offices of Villagomez, Babauta, Reps. Edwin Propst (D-Saipan), Christina Sablan (D-Saipan), and Celina Babauta (D-Saipan).

The complainant said it has been less than gratifying to be in such a toxic and hostile work environment.

“In these last several months, I have observed severe belittling, degrading, and disrespect of employees by a supervisor,” the complainant said.

Babauta said that, instead of singling out any certain individual and/or government agency, she would like lawmakers to focus on the current procedures that Commonwealth has in place to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

“Are the policies adequate? What can be improved? Is there an outlet for employees? Is there support and training for our leaders? How can we support the Office of Personnel Management in this process?” said the lawmaker, adding that these are questions that will be addressed at the House committee level as they meet with proper agencies.

“We must do what we can to ensure these spaces are not toxic and abusive because we do not want these emotions and behaviors extending back into the home,” Babauta said.

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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