A shipping company delivering supplies to stores and residents on Tinian from Saipan is expected to close shop this July as its workers are being sent back to their home countries after their contract worker permits expire.
Michael San Nicolas, who runs the SN-5 Shipping Company, said they will be sending these employees back to the Philippines, where they hope to process their papers for a few months. Their employees are all leaving at different dates in July, he added.
San Nicolas’ shipping company is one of the many small businesses in the CNMI that are expected to feel the strain or close down with some 1,300 foreign workers leaving the Commonwealth, after the federal government announced in May that the CNMI had breached its CW worker cap and the affected employees not in the cap would have to leave within ten days of their permits expiring.
“My dad has been running this shipping between Tinian and Saipan for 26 years,” since 1990, he told Saipan Tribune in an interview yesterday.
“When he died three years ago, the children, myself included, took over the business.
“We just got caught up with this cap,” he said, adding they were late by two weeks in sending applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
San Nicolas said they have seven contract workers, all of which are skilled workers, like engine mechanics, a mason, and shipping crew.
San Nicolas says they ship goods every week to stores on Tinian and used to ship supplies to the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino when it was still running.
He stresses they are not the only company who ships goods, though, to Tinian.
“We are just hoping and crossing our fingers we will continue because we are looking at the future with hotels opening on Tinian and we want to continue our father’s business. The children want to continue Dad’s business,” he said.
San Nicolas, when asked, said they would try to hire local workers, “but my men—they’ve been working on our boat for 15 to 20 years—and they know it inside out.”
“I am deeply saddened to see a local company that has been in service since 1990 have to close down,” said Rep. Edwin K. Propst (Ind-Saipan) yesterday, when sought for comment. “They provide a valuable service between Saipan and Tinian and many stores depend on SN-5 and residents depend on them for goods.”
Propst added many of these positions lost are skilled workers and if local workers wants these jobs they can apply but it was sad to see long-term workers and families being forced to leave island.
As the contract worker crisis continues, business and labor groups have sought solutions outside administrative fixes by the federal government to alleviate the strain on the contract worker cap.
Business groups last week, for one, asked the Saipan casino and another developer to pull all their construction visas not on the ground for their hotel developments to alleviate the strain on the quota.
The Saipan Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Society of Human Resources Management asked Best Sunshine International, Ltd., the Saipan casino, and Honest Profit International, Ltd., to cancel these visa applications.
The groups fear economic collapse next fiscal year with some 7,000 construction workers under the CW cap in the pipeline replacing many longtime workers that run the day-to-day businesses of the Commonwealth. Some 1,200 construction workers occupy the CW quota for this year.
The Saipan casino, who has boasted plans to complete a high-class casino resort in Garapan by 2017 and begin the first phase of its $7-billion dollar casino industry on Saipan that is still seeking its investors to fund large swaths of the project, has still not responded to emails from Saipan Tribune on the groups’ request to pull out their construction worker visas.