The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is not immune to the effects of the 3,000-slot reduction in the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program this fiscal year and it is losing staff because of the cap set by U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services for 2018.
According to CUC executive director Gary Camacho, with the many changes in the CW situation in the CNMI, CUC has been impacted as well.
“In the beginning of 2017, we had a total of 33 CWs working at CUC. Currently, we now have 16 and the others are waiting for the approval of their H1B applications,” he said.
“Those applications that were denied will be resubmitted in April 2018. There have been a few who have decided that that their career with CUC has ended and have since returned to their homeland after the expiration of their contracts,” he added.
Camacho said a lot of these people have had many years of experience with CUC and replacing them will not be easy.
“Do understand the conditions that is needed with our power plant, so it’s very difficult in replacing them at this particular junction until we get people developed,” he said.
“We are concerned with the idea of not having qualified personnel at power generation and what effect it would have at the existing infrastructure and inevitably in the community,” he added.
He assured, though, that CUC’s power plant management is still under control.
“With the economic development we have been experiencing, we have more facilities to deal with but I have been assured by the power plant management team that they have things under control,” he said.
“I have respect for the experts of the power plant and all the hardworking people there,” he added.
CUC Human Resources manager Andrew Orsini said that CUC has six H-1B holders awaiting renewals.
“One has been approved already by USCIS and others are still pending. We are waiting for the outcome. Eight members have actually paid the premium payment to get the answer from USCIS right awayto speed up the process because they have families here,” he said
“CUC is doing its best to help these workers and we are positive that things will work out,” he added.