More than anything else, the burden of showing Congress that the CNMI is doing its part to recruit, hire, and retain U.S. eligible workers falls on Commonwealth employers themselves.
That’s according to Marian Aldan Pierce, the guest speaker in yesterday’s membership meting of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce at the Hibiscus Hall of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan.
By showing Congress that the CNMI is doing its best to hire U.S. workers, only then will it listen to pleas of Commonwealth employers to be allowed to continue hiring foreign workers, she said.
Pierce, division president of DFS and board member of the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp., the apparent trend in Washington, D.C. right now is to eliminate guest worker programs like the CW-1 in the CNMI.
“It is upon us to show and to justify the continuation of the CW program,” Pierce said.
The decision to end the CW program in 2019 was enacted by Congress in 2014. Pierce said, “We are now in the process to reverse that law.”
She recounted that the NMBAC was formed for the promotion of the common economic interests of businesses in the CNMI. The corporation hired a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. to work toward this end and to assist the CNMI administration and business community in its efforts with the CW-1 program.
“During a [call] last week, we made them know that we need to have continuous access to CW-1 workers beyond 2019 but there are concerns among key policymakers in the U.S. Senate that the CNMI community is not doing enough to recruit U.S. workers,” Pierce added.
The U.S. Senate has the impression that the CNMI has made very little effort to recruit non-CW-1 workers, which according to the corporation is not true.
“We need affirmative steps to show them that we recruit not only locally but also from off island. We have to show them that in fact hiring foreign labor is a critical component of the CNMI’s growing economy,” she said. “We have special and unique circumstances.”
Pierce urged all businesses in the community to document all the efforts that have been done and they are still doing in hiring, recruitment and training U.S. citizens.
“We know that there are various efforts that need to be documented. We must carefully document everything that we do to recruit non-CW workers. We need to catalog job ads that was placed in the papers, online with lots of details, how many applied for particular positions, how many were offered jobs, how long did they stay and if they resigned, why did they leave.”
“Document all job fairs that have taken place or scheduled, with details as to date, time and location. Also, advertisements that have been done beforehand, with pictures. This binder should include recruitment efforts.”
She urged businesses to submit to the Chamber office as soon as possible the recruitment efforts in 2016 and 2017. She said the NMBAC will compile all documents for submission to the Office of the Governor and Office of the Delegates.
Pierce said she cannot overemphasize the need of the CNMI for foreign workers even beyond 2019 for its continued growth.
“It is of utmost importance to show efforts to recruit non-CW-1 workers. We cannot only say it, we have to prove it.”