Teachers of the Public School System and nurses of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. were given salary increases starting Oct. 1, 2017.
Glen Muña, who is the acting Education commissioner, said the last pay hike for PSS teachers was back in 2006.
“The salary increase [for teachers] was effective Oct. 1 and teachers saw it at the last pay period in that same month,” he said.
According to Muña, the salary increase serves a two-fold purpose that benefits both the teachers and the whole CNMI.
“We are now at a competitive level in terms of the salary that we offer teachers, so it made it easier [for the board] to approve,” he said. “Our hope is to attract more teachers and even service providers like psychologists to come.”
One of the most common problems of PSS before was attracting and retaining teachers due to the low wages it offered.
“It is better for the CNMI now because we are on the top rank and we can now say we are offering a competitive package to our teachers and potential recruits. As a matter of fact, we are in the process of securing one of our recruits as a result of the salary adjustment,” said Muña.
Meanwhile, nurses on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota received above-market salary increases effective Oct. 1, which is now similar to what Guam is paying its nurses.
In an earlier interview, CHCC CEO Esther Muña said the salary increase will help the hospital in recruiting and retaining employees.
“The increase will be able to convince people to come our way in the hospital and not Guam or anywhere else. That is why this is important,” she said.
“The salary increase is a plan to address the issues of the CW visa workers and the staff shortage. We are also working with the Northern Marianas College to identify how to make nursing graduates stay and start working for us,” she added.
According to CHCC Hospital & Dialysis administrator Jessie Tudela, the salary increase will benefit both nurses who are currently working at the hospital and those coming from off-island.
“All nurses will be placed at the pay-level and step that our CEO and HR director issued a memo on. Any new hire will also get the pay scale,” he said.
Rep. Donald C. Barcinas (R-Saipan) said that education and healthcare are critical components to the social and economic development of the CNMI.
“We need professionals both in education and healthcare. In order to have and retain them, salaries should be competitive and benefits at par with the current standards. We want to eliminate the high turnover of our workforce as we need continuity in services,” he said.
“I understand it is difficult to recruit, especially [for those who] specialize in special education and the same goes for highly qualified nurses. In order for us to…have quality service, we must have attractive salary compensation for our teachers and nurses that is competitive even with the U.S,” he added.