The Public School System is not only reducing salaries but will also let go of employees who will not agree to have their salaries slashed.
In a system-wide memorandum issued last June 6, 2019, acting Education commissioner Jackie Quitugua informed PSS employees of upcoming salary reductions, together with an addendum to their contracts that would authorize PSS to make the cuts, as approved by the CNMI Board of Education last June 5, 2019.
Quitugua issued the memorandum a day after the BOE approved the cost-cutting measure. Under the plan, PSS employees would only get their salaries, without insurance, taxes, and other additional benefits.
A copy of the contract addendum that Saipan Tribune obtained states that, if signed, it would allow PSS to reduce salaries based on increases implemented in the compensation plan for 2017 and the previous compensation plan. The addendum also allows PSS to implement a freeze on salary increases—including those discussed during contract renewals.
Those who sign the addendum would also not be able to receive backpay for the difference in salary during the time of salary reductions.
“The reduction is half the difference between an employee’s current salary and what the salary for their position was before PSS moved to the current compensation plan, effectuated Oct. 1, 2017,” Quitugua explained.
“There is no reduction to employees making [less than] $23,660,” she noted, adding that no employee will have their salaries reduced below $23,660, regardless of the reduction.
Those who opt not to sign the addendum would be laid off 90 days after June 6, 2019—on Sept. 4, 2019.
Those who opt not to sign the addendum and does not inform the PSS Human Resources Office that they will not be signing it before June 21 will receive back pay for the 90 days they worked, with the corresponding salary reductions.
Those who refuse to sign the addendum but informs the PSS Human Resources Office that they will not be signing it before Friday, June 21, 2019, will still be let go but their salaries will be untouched.
“…If you notify the Human Resources Office by Friday, June 21, 2019, stating your refusal to sign the new addendum, then PSS will not reduce your salary,” Quitugua noted.
“…However, you will be released from employment no later than 90 days from the date of this letter, on Sept. 4, 2019,” Quitugua further noted.
“Current cost-savings measures by PSS, such as the salary freeze, are not enough to overcome this deficit,” she explained in her memorandum, adding that PSS is reliant on funding allotments from the central government for payroll and several other obligations.
“Unfortunately, based on past and current allotments that PSS has received this fiscal year, PSS is currently in a state of financial emergency as declared by the BOE,” she explained, adding that the CNMI government is collecting “far less revenue than it projected for the fiscal year 2019 budget.”