Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Construction firm says requirement to hire locals discriminatory

Construction firm says requirement to hire locals discriminatory

Thursday, 19 November 2009 00:00 By Junhan B. Todeno - Reporter

CONVINCED that the 20 percent local hiring rule will no longer be applicable when the federal government takes over CNMI immigration, a construction firm said it will not comply with a recent Department of Labor order.

In its Sept. 29 order, Labor ordered Misamis Construction Saipan Ltd. to pay $2,000 because it failed to hire three new resident workers every month.
Misamis was also ordered to continue providing Labor a list of its local hiring until March 2010.

But Barrie J. Ladd, Misamis operations manager, said the imposition of the 20 percent requirement is no longer enforceable under U.S. law.

“With the advent of federalization of labor and immigration on the 28th of November we believe that this regulation will not be recognized by the federal authorities,” Ladd said in his letter to Labor.

He said the 20 percent requirement has never been the subject of any site or establishment inspections by Labor to ascertain compliance of any company.
He added that they are aware of a number of cases of employment designed to circumnavigate the requirement by using resident workers’ Social Security numbers although no work was actually performed by these workers.

Besides, he said, they couldn’t find qualified workers from the local workforce.
He told Labor they now have 185 nonresident and 12 resident workers and still find it very difficult to improve the ratio.

Labor’s 20 percent requirement, he said, discriminates against nonresident workers.
He said two applicants who can both legally work and have the same qualifications are both equal under the law, and the most suitable applicant can be selected regardless of race, religion, sex or age.

“Your department is far too difficult to deal with. I have personally lost many valuable hours waiting for a meeting sometimes hours after the scheduled time,” Ladd told Labor .

With the depressed state of the economy, in addition to the stiff competition in the construction industry, he said they do not have the time to put up with the “obstructive nature” of Labor.

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