Pacific Islands Club Saipan, as part of the E-Land Group, would try to consolidate its staff with the two other hotel properties operated on Saipan by the South Korean company in order to fill the expected shortage from their workforce due to the current CW1 issue.
PIC general manager Gloria Cavanagh said they are already looking for a solution and one would be is to work out a staffing schedule of all of the three hotels under the E-Land Group.
PIC is one of three hotel properties that E-Land operates in the CNMI that includes Coral Ocean Point Golf Resort and Kensington Hotel Saipan. PIC has a total of 94 staff; 23 of its CW1 workers had their petitions for renewal rejected by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“This is devastating. The range of acceptance is 10 to 52 percent. We are hoping the NMI workforce bill [S. 2325] passes soon,” Cavanagh told Saipan Tribune.
Both the CNMI government and the business community are waiting for U.S. Congress to act on the legislation introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to remedy the CNMI’s workforce issues.
“The rejected ones are mostly culinary and engineering. We will probably close at least one restaurant,” said Cavanagh. “Since we are part of the E-Land Group, in the worst case, we will try to consolidate what we have and work within our staffing amongst the three properties.”
She added that E-Land had been participating in various internship programs like the one being given by the Northern Marianas Trades Institute. “We’ve been training and participating in the NMTI internship programs. However, the engineering department is a big loss,” said Cavanagh, who is also the president of the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands.
She added that more than 50 percent of HANMI workers are foreigners, which include personnel that are either CW1s or holders of other U.S. employment visas.
“HANMI, as a whole, only have less than 44 percent foreign workers, which would include visas other than CW. These workers are mostly in engineering and culinary. We are currently trying to accumulate the statistics on the total numbers,” she said.
USCIS lopped off a large portion of available CW1 slots for fiscal year 2019, from 12,998 slots to 4,999. USCIS received more than the cap for all CW1 renewals last year, prompting them to use a random lottery system on which petition would be approved.
The hardest hit was the Commonwealth Health Center, the CNMI’s lone hospital, as all of their CW1 nurses were denied that could pose problems in providing healthcare.
PIC is one of the many business establishments in the CNMI that rely on foreign labor. Some auto shops have either cut down hours or no longer accept cars that need repairs after their mechanics were also capped out.
Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC was also affected, with a number of their casino staff, which previously worked in casinos in the Philippines, opting to not renew their contracts due to the uncertainty of their employment status in the Commonwealth.