The CNMI Department of Labor is confirming reports that Gold Mantis Construction Decoration (CNMI) LLC officials or any of their Saipan-based representatives had allegedly left the island a few days after several of their construction workers held a series of protests.
Wei Yuan, an alleged Gold Mantis official, could no longer be found and reportedly managed to sneak out of Saipan, according to information obtained by Saipan Tribune. However, Wei informed Zhou Hui, one of the protesters, that a Gold Mantis executive and their lawyer are expected to arrive on Saipan to settle the issue.
Zhou and 79 of his colleagues protested last week demanding Gold Mantis to settle their unpaid salaries and overtime wages, send them back home, return their recruitment fee and the money they paid for the uniform.
Zhou last talked to Wei on April 17, the same day where Gold Mantis allegedly promised that they would be paid on April 19. He, however, could also no longer be found by his colleagues and despite having a Saipan number could no longer be contacted.
CNMI Labor Secretary Edith DeLeon Guerrero told Saipan Tribune in an email that Gold Mantis’ last known office on Capital Hill appears to be abandoned when they visited the site a number of times last week.
DeLeon Guerrero said they would still actively pursue all known principals and/or documented associates/affiliates of Gold Mantis so they could answer all the allegations thrown at them.
“[We would pursue them], regardless of the finding of an abandoned office or that of certain representatives have been reported to have departed the CNMI and abandoning the workers,” said DeLeon Guerrero.
“The nature of these labor violations are reprehensible and to all that are involved and/or participated in the commission of such an illegal employment activity the CNMI DOL is determined in its pursuit to impose all labor violations committed,” she added.
Gold Mantis was among the contractors hired by Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC to help build the Imperial Pacific Resort. MCC International and Beilida Overseas (CNMI) Ltd. are separate contractors with the latter not connected with the former.
DeLeon Guerrero said she was about to meet with her staff at Labor’s Enforcement Division on April 18 when she was informed that Zhou and his colleagues were holding a protest at the Garapan Basketball Court.
“I quickly postponed the meeting and assembled the CNMI DOL Enforcement unit to proceed to the protest site where we found a total of 46 undocumented workers ranging with claims from unpaid wages, overtime, recovery of placement/recruitment fees, a paid ticket back home, and to have their employer Gold Mantis settle all their claims here before they are sent back home to China.”
CBP’s next move
The United States Customs and Border Protection is also coordinating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney General in a plan of action to deal with the current labor and immigration situation.
CBP program manager and public affairs liaison Frank Falcon, in a separate email to the Saipan Tribune, said as of now they consider those who protested as “unlawfully present” since they had already exceeded their authorized stay in the CNMI.
“CBP works closely with Homeland Security Investigations to coordinate appropriate strategies for persons who are unlawfully present. [We are also] working closely with the FBI and the U.S. [AG] to determine the appropriate next steps.”
“[Steps] in order to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigations, assist the U.S. [DoL] negotiating with companies who employed the workers, and to ensure maximum dignity and respect to impacted workers.”
He added the Conditional Parole could also be revoked anytime. “Passengers availing themselves of the Conditional Parole have not been admitted (unlike a passenger arriving under a non-immigrant visa) and that parole can be revoked at any time.”
“In requesting the Conditional Parole, passengers waive their rights to contest CBP’s decision on their application at the border.”