The Northern Marianas Trades Institute officially issued furlough letters to majority of their staff last Friday due to their inability to sustain payroll payments as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a board meeting last Friday, NMTI issued furlough letters to 18 of their staff, including instructors. NMTI CEO Agnes McPhetres said that NMTI has a little over 20 employees.
However, four NMTI staff under administrative services were exempted from the furlough and the NMTI administration office remains open from Monday to Thursday.
According to McPhetres, the furlough was implemented immediately after employees received and signed their notices on April 17.
“[Staff] will be on furlough not to exceed one year. While on furlough, [employees] are not required to work, although the current contract is still valid,” she said.
NMTI had no choice but to furlough majority of their staff because of the tremendous fiscal impact COVID-19 has had on the CNMI thus far.
“Because of the tremendous fiscal impact of COVID-19 on the community, and its effect on the economy of the CNMI, we are obligated to reassess our program delivery and the ability of the CNMI government in assisting NMTI during such a difficult time,” McPhetres said.
After an assessment, furloughing the majority of NMTI staff was the only choice, according to her.
“After assessing every avenue as to how best our institution can wisely fulfill its mission as an educational training institution and safeguard financial responsibility and stability during such predicament, NMTI must implement drastic action that affects the majority of its employees,” McPhetres said.
The Public School System also issued notices of furloughs last week to over 700 employees because of their inability to make payroll payments.
According to a letter that PSS sent out on April 13 to all locally funded teachers and staff, they would all be furloughed starting April 15 because PSS is unable pay their salaries.
On top of the furlough, teachers and staff have yet to be paid for the last payroll and PSS still owes them 30% of the payroll before that.