Taiwanese workers with H-2B visas were joined by three former employees of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s former contractor, Pacific Rim Land Development LLC, in a press briefing last Friday to disclose a planned protest demonstration yesterday, Monday, in front of the federal court to raise some issues with their employment.
The Taiwanese workers pointed out that their teams “corrected” many “mistakes” of the contractor and subcontractor at IPI’s casino/resort in Garapan, but that they are not blaming anyone as all they all want is to finish the project.
Ke-Shih Yang, who is among the remaining 104 Taiwanese H-2B visa workers hired by IPI, said they are not blaming Pacific Rim Land Development or its subcontractor, JSMI, or IPI, because they are here just to work.
Three former Pacific Rim workers—David Santos, Trina Rahman, and Eddie Moni—who joined Yang and four other IPI Taiwanese workers at IPI’s office at Vestcor on Capital Hill last Friday afternoon, complained that Pacific Rim just laid them off two years ago without telling them the reason. As of press time Friday, Saipan Tribune was still awaiting comments from Pacific Rim, which is suing IPI and five unnamed alleged co-conspirators for not being paid for work done at the casino. IPI has countersued Pacific Rim.
Pacific Rim has already obtained a $6.9-million judgment from the District Court against IPI.
At a press conference Friday, Yang said they have been working hard with the project for two years now and that they don’t want to leave it unfinished.
Yang said when they (Taiwanese workers) came on Saipan after IPI hired them two years ago to replace the Chinese workers, the façade of the casino/resort was only 35% done. He said they then worked with Pacific Rim and its subcontractor, JSMI, to fix some problems in the construction work. He said Taiwanese workers actually work well with workers of different nationalities, as well as with local workers, at the project.
Yang said they don’t know the problems between Pacific Rim and IP but completing the project would be good for the people of Saipan and the economy. “We’re just here to try to fix the problem,” he said, citing one problem area is the wirings. “JMSI was doing good, we’re working together. We’re having teamwork,” he said.
Yang said IPI hired H-2B visa workers from Taiwan in 2018 because they needed skilled workers. “We spend (sic) two years here now. We try our best to finish the project. Safety is always first,” he said.
Yang said the project is actually above the standard. “For us workers, we just try to do our part. We have many friends at JSMI and Pacific Rim,” he said.
Yang said their salary, like with the local workers, is sometimes delayed but they all get paid eventually. Yet even with delayed paychecks, Yang said they continue working so they can finish the project and go back to their families in Taiwan. When international flights resume, probably 25 Taiwanese workers would leave because of delayed salary problems, he added.
Santos said he was hired as a welder at $12 per hour when he was supposed to get $22 an hour. He said he worked as a welder for one month and was later told that he’s rehired as a labor worker.
Rahman said she worked with Pacific Rim as a laborer at $9 per hour. Rahman said that more than 200 of them, including those from Guam, were hired, then laid off only after a few months. “They never gave us notice not told us the reason,” she said. Rahman said Pacific Rim still owes her $275 per diem.
Rahman said Pacific Rim promised them that they would work on the IPI project on Saipan for five years, but the company laid them off after only seven months. She is thankful that she got a job with another company. “We were laid off, but were not told why. We left our family [in Guam], that’s how we get treated?” she said.