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Jul 18, 2007

Stop Don't Shoot!

Whoa! Tomorrow's news will have Juan Pan's side of the story. He is obviously aware of the massive SMS/text campaign on banning or boycotting his businesses. He said, "Please don't shoot the messenger," adding that it was the Saipan Chamber of Commerce board's position on federal takeover.

The Reveler

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

If this is truly the position of the entire Chamber of Commerce... than as thoughtful citizens, we should take the entire Chamber to task and boycott all businesses that are members. I am proud to say that today I accidentally placed a Herman's Bakery bread and one of Herman's specialty pastry breads in my cart... I remembered the "position" of Mr. Guerrero (well, the Chamber position), and I put the breads back and took another companies bread. I felt kinda warm and fuzzy inside. I may be back here to begin listing the Chamber's member businesses. I'll wait for the "final position" of the Chamber however.

Anonymous said...

If this is truly the position of the entire Chamber of Commerce... than as thoughtful citizens, we should take the entire Chamber to task and boycott all businesses that are members. I am proud to say that today I accidentally placed a Herman's Bakery bread and one of Herman's specialty pastry breads in my cart... I remembered the "position" of Mr. Guerrero (well, the Chamber position), and I put the breads back and took another companies bread. I felt kinda warm and fuzzy inside. I may be back here to begin listing the Chamber's member businesses. I'll wait for the "final position" of the Chamber however.

Herman said...

i couldn't agree more.

bradinthesand said...

why not go to meetings before judging the chamber? i did and i get what they're saying. they aren't for our labor bill, but they are for the spirit of the bill.

as far as federalization goes, it's not in their best interests for a number of reasons.

i see all sides of the issue but only because of getting out there to hear the real scoop.

i mean, if you're truly concerned with what's happening in the CNMI all you have to do is make the time and go to where the action is.

it's just that simple. the people in the chamber aren't high and mighty. they're just the people who got off of the sidelines and decided to try and make a difference.

if they need to be smacked around, then why not get involved and call them on their misdeeds.

anyone can bitch about what happens here but the only ones who matter are the ones who get off their duffs and do something about it.

btw, i don't side with anyone completely on the issue but i think that the feds shouldn't be making sweeping changes without getting the okay from the local government.

it's more of a smack in the face than anything. sure the minimum wage needs to improve, but $3.05 an hour isn't $3.05 and hour when you add in the meals, benefits and housing.

hey, i made the same wage as he other reporters at the paper without all of the free medical, meals and housing.

that's what people should be focussing on--how the local workers get the short end of the stick when it comes to compensation.

Anonymous said...

...as I said... I'll wait until a "final" position by the Chamber is out. That means the details of why they support this. The fact is, some of us aren't bachelors...some of us have five kids and jobs they can't leave and cannot attend the Chamber meetings. When Chamber leadership puts out a position as controversial as the one Mr. Guerrero put out...the reasons why should be made very clear to the public. The fact also remains that especially at this time of economic crisis, the Chamber should be in a position of considerable influence...they are not. There are reasons for this, and as Chamber members and/or persons who have worked closely with the organization...a little honest introspection may be in order.

Anonymous said...

p.s. - BradinSand didn't, in that long response he wrote, give a reason for the "Chamber position" on not wanting to grandfather the long-residing alien workers. Please feel free to explain the position...I'm sure more than just me would like to know why we would try to prevent folks who have lived and worked in our community, some for over 20 years, and most who have families and roots, who have built our roads, our schools, have slaved over our children and harvested our produce... what possible good reason would there be to not want to try to prevent these relatively few individuals, who are now part of our CNMI family, from being able to continue to work in the CNMI without fear of deportation, or be able to travel to work elsewhere in the US, or be able to have some path for citizenship provided to them. Why? ...there really is no truly good reason.

Anonymous said...

...that is to "want to try"... sorry

bradinthesand said...

i do not speak for the chamber so you'll have to contact them directly.

i think you should also look into what FAS status will do for the people who get “grandfathered in.”

if the feds grant status they should go all the way. as it is on the books, the employers of those who would be granted status would no longer have to pay for the medical, food and housing. the employees faced with the stark realities of the poverty level would be ineligible for federal aid because of their change of status.

so, who would pay to help the newly converted? ultimately it will have to be the same CNMI government that hasn’t the money to pay for the phone and power as it is.

i think that the feds should shoulder the cost of providing economic assistance to those "grandfathered in" or scrap the program. that's from me, not the chamber.

as for the bachelor part, why not look at the chamber board and tell me which of them are swinging singles. Anyone can make a valid argument why he or she can’t do something. the simple fact is that it's not easy being an active part of the community but the people who get involved make their own sacrifices to do so. there are fathers, mothers, and yes, bachelors and bachelorettes who get involved.

having kids is great and from what you wrote I gather that your family is your priority in life. that's great too. if this issue is to become one of your priorities then i think you could find the time to make a difference in the community in much the same way you do at home.

you said:
"what possible good reason would there be to not want to try to prevent these relatively few individuals, who are now part of our CNMI family, from being able to continue to work in the CNMI without fear of deportation, or be able to travel to work elsewhere in the US, or be able to have some path for citizenship provided to them."

i would think that it's because they were never brought here with a promise of citizenship or a change of status when said select group arrived for work so many years ago. it sounds crummy, but the off-island workers were called here to serve at the pleasure of the CNMI's businesses. i believe that their collective contribution to the CNMI has been great, but it was also exactly what they were called here to do.

if there is no more need for off-island workers in the job market then i believe that there is no overriding reason to demand their residency.

at best the workers should make a formal request to the local government to remain in the CNMI based on years of service, but jumping the chain of command and going to the feds seems a little underhanded to me and I can easily see how it would appear to be an abuse of trust to the local community.

be that as it may, i am for people bettering themselves and laying down roots in a foreign land. the only thing is that it only works if the other country wants you to.

i think what it boils down to is more of an issue of respect on both sides of the debate.

i believe that the most polite of local people feel that the folks lobbying to stay are exploiting the CNMI's relationship with the US to gain status. on the other side of the coin, the foreign workers feel slighted for being asked/forced to leave in lieu of federal immigration.

unfortunately, that decision was up to the individual employers and the CNMI department of immigration every year that the workers contracts were up for renewal.

now when you have foreign workers running human resource departments you have a reluctance to hire local workers. when i was going through the hiring process at the paper i was told, “You know, all of the people working in the office are Filipinos. Are you going to be okay with that?”

i couldn’t believe what i heard. this woman was an off-island worker. when i asked about getting the same meals, free medical and housing that my coworker received i was told that they are entitled to the benefits because they are the heroes of the Philippines.

all i was asking for was equal compensation. i was flat out denied.

i think therein lies the problem. the false sense of entitlement over the years has mushroomed into a demand for humane treatment. who wasn’t being treated fairly? I think unfair treatment went across the board.

perhaps, in exchange for providing so many jobs to people from other countries, the people of the CNMI should request multi-citizenship status with the Philippines, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Korea, Japan, Nepal, Russia, Fiji, Indonesia, India, Canada, Australia and Mongolia.

would that be a fair exchange? then borders wouldn’t be an issue and everyone would be happy, right? following the same logic, the CNMI could always take its case to the United Nations if the other countries refused…

Jeff said...

No one ever, and I mean ever, talks about the fact that there are tons of people completely unrepresented by the local government. They are the people not in the bureaucracy, those not earning western style wages, and there are a lot of them. The vast majority of the parents of my students are in this category. They are completely ignored, blown off, disillusioned and the government actively harms them by hiring lobbyists to make sure we keep a bloated labor market and meager wages. I'd be more concerned about consulting with the local government if they'd consult with their own people, not just the connected ones.

Cheap wages and a bloated labor market work for the Chamber. That's why they are doing what they are doing. They're free to do so, but I find it pretty awful, but not unexpected.

Brad, take a look at those barracks. There is a reason you don't live there. You wouldn't. There isn't free health care. They work for it. They aren't robots and they clearly can't pay hospital bills on 3.05 and corporations benefitting from these workers would get a free ride if health benefits weren't required. They'd eventually get sick and stick it to the government. A health plan of some sort is a basic benefit of a western society. The U.S. is the only rich country where you can't even get to see the doctor. I had Take Care last year, needed to see a gastro in the states, and when I finally found one who'd see me paying out of pocket, it was $500 for an initial consulation. If you weren't given any medical benefits that is indeed a good question. The fact that contract workers get covered to whatever degree is irrelevant to the issue. The issue is why you aren't covered.

Anonymous said...

...a little too long to read, but...

1. I am the product of the FAS plan. Every single one of my adult family members has worked full time there entire time in the CNMI (or mainland US) and have contributed greatly. My relatives have died in Iraq fighting for the United States and they aren't US Citizens (and don't seek to be). The "drain" and "strain" on the CNMI isn't due to hardworking long-staying Filipinos... and there's no way this argument can be made. These are folks who work and take care of there families.
2. These workers didn't come in 10 or 20 years ago looking to become US citizens... they came here to work and get money to their families. They had no alterior motive or plan towards citizenship.
3. Our alien workers, especially those who've lived and worked here for long periods of time absolutely have the right to voice their opinions, try to ensure that their lives aren't thrown into disarray and petition the system to consider them in the whole scheme of things. This is not taking advantage.

Your right when you say "sounds crummy" in reference to simply sending longstays back home without any consideration. That's because it is crummy. It is simply wrong.

Compared to many of these people... you are a newcomer. If anyone is truly part of the community and has the right and obligation to speak and fight for particular change... it is the old Filipino man who has a wife, two kids and has broken his back under pseudo-slavelike conditions here... not you.

...and when you have five kids... you may speak to me on making time.

Jeff said...

"i believe that the most polite of local people feel that the folks lobbying to stay are exploiting the CNMI's relationship with the US to gain status."

Can people who made fortunes for years having Chinese in Saipan make garments marked Made in the USA as a trade loophole seriously say anything about anyone "exploiting the CNMI's relationship with the U.S." Yeah, they stopped the Made in the USA thing, but it happened for a long time.

Anonymous said...

another p.s. - thank you Herman and Jeff... Brad needs to get his head out of the sand. Maybe? Just this once. Not sports here... this is about people.

Jeff said...

Brad's a contrarian, that's what I love about his Jolibee loving, Sexiest blogger leading mug.

Anonymous said...

Is contrarian really a word? One who is by nature contrary? I don't have a dictionary handy, but assuming contrarian is a word, I'd guess the definition would be "moron"? ...I'll look for that dictionary in the meantime.

Jeff said...

It's important to not be personal in these debates or blogging can become not too fun. I just wrote about that on my own blog. There are things where I'm sure you'd agree with Brad, and some you don't.

Anonymous said...

The things I agree with him on (and he's right on) :) are trivial... the positions he takes with regards to truly important matters are not only off-base... they are inhumane and wrong. The opinions of a person do define that person. Things therefore may blur between what may be considered personal or not. I could say Mr. SandinBrad is taking "personal" shots at FAS citizens and alien employees. He made a personal assumption that should longstaying aliens remain...they would be a burden on society. He may not be picking a particular person out... but you bet this is personal.

Anonymous said...

The things I agree with him on (and he's right on) :) are trivial... the positions he takes with regards to truly important matters are not only off-base... they are inhumane and wrong. The opinions of a person do define that person. Things therefore may blur between what may be considered personal or not. I could say Mr. SandinBrad is taking "personal" shots at FAS citizens and alien employees. He made a personal assumption that should longstaying aliens remain...they would be a burden on society. He may not be picking a particular person out... but you bet this is personal.

the reveler said...

sand out brad.

brad u more or less know that the chamber does not allow nor invite media in their board meetings. they mostly provide media the press releases. of course they invite media during the monthly meeting where they invite speakers during the event.

read my above post this time....

bradinthesand said...

...and at least I post with my name attached...

anonymouse, you take things entirely too personal. i make no claims to being an entrenched member of society and never intimated that my opinion with regards to the future of the cnmi should carry more weight than any other.

my comments are unbiased. while i enjoy playing devil's advocate from time to time, i don't attack the people i trade posts with.

i am not against anyone gaining benefits and receiving humane treatment at all.

my guess is that you misinterpreted what i wrote because you rolled up your sleeves and took a defensive stance, though i wasn't attacking anyone.

you said, with regards to me:
"He made a personal assumption that should longstaying aliens remain...they would be a burden on society. He may not be picking a particular person out... but you bet this is personal."

i wasn't insulting the FAS folks at all with this, though after a reread i see how you could form this opinion. to be frank, without talking with me face-to-face it's nearly impossible to really know how i am delivering my point.

it was anything but hate and insult driven. my point was that the benefits enjoyed by contract workers will be cutoff when and if the "longstaying aliens" get status.

the people who have labored so hard in the CNMI for years will receive the same menial pay without the same benefits. i even gave an example of it by illustrating my situation as a local citizen in the private sector.

i received the same pay as my coworkers but was unable to receive three meals a day, housing and free medical. basically, i received less compensation for my time and that is what's going to happen when and if the "longstaying aliens" gain FAS status.

the cost of gaining status will be in effect a serious pay cut and my statement was that if the feds make such a sweeping change that they be responsible enough to take care of those who will most likely be in need.

it's not a slam on the FAS citizens but a slam on the feds for not crafting a bill that recognizes the likely needs of converted citizens.

i can easily make an argument for both sides on the status issue and my comments were anything but demeaning to the current FAS status holders. i apologize if my post came across with an air of superiority because those who know me would never make that assessment. i’m too poor to be a snob.

one thing that i didn't appreciate was your discounting my comments because i wrote sports for the paper. saying that my opinion should be limited to sports would be like me saying that you should stick to changing diapers.

i think that both statements are ridiculous.

the simple fact is that, whatever happens, my status won't change when all is said and done.

i hope everyone gets what they want and that what they want is in their best interests. unfortunately, anyone who says anything contrary (not necessarily moronic) to the status seekers is considered a "playa hate-ah."

i've already used more "i's" in this post than an ambrose bennett letter to the editor so it must be time to stop writing.

anonymous, just know that i don't think that i'm better than anyone, that i don't feel my opinion rates higher than anyone else's, and that i appreciate forums such as these where people can air their thoughts freely.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'd be able to pass on substantial information on diaper-changing, should there ever be an opportunity to post on such.

The world is simple Sand... it is light and dark, good and evil. An action falls one way or the other. Not recognizing the contributions of these longstaying workers and using our particular predicament (possible US takeover of immigration/labor) to help them out and provide them with a modicum of what they are due is EVIL. Again... this is simple and clear. If you don't see this, than you have only your upbringing to question... not me or my anonymity.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I'd be able to pass on substantial information on diaper-changing, should there ever be an opportunity to post on such.

The world is simple Sand... it is light and dark, good and evil. An action falls one way or the other. Not recognizing the contributions of these longstaying workers and using our particular predicament (possible US takeover of immigration/labor) to help them out and provide them with a modicum of what they are due is EVIL. Again... this is simple and clear. If you don't see this, than you have only your upbringing to question... not me or my anonymity.

bradinthesand said...

i don't understand how people are due citizenship for working here under the terms of their respective contracts, but i think that going out of our way to deny it sounds more than a bit ungrateful.

i'm still not saying that anyone is due citizenship, but it would be a kind gesture if the CNMI welcomed the status change rather than oppose it.

seems to be driven more by fear than anything. well, fear and a dose of hardcore nationalism--what a dangerous mix.

as for my upbringing, i must admit to have been deprived of the "son, people who work overseas deserve to get citizenship whether the host nation likes it or not" speech.

my parents taught me that all people are created equal and that i'm not any better than anyone else.

i'm still abiding by that.

i think you are missing my point though. if the change of status does push through, the feds should buck up and fund people if they need to go on government assistance.

is that so wrong? is that evil? nope. there are a lot of people here receiving food stamps.

if you don't believe me, look at any mom n' pop store and read the "we accept food stamp" sign.

pointing it out isn't an insult to people of FAS status. i did, however, reference that people who lose the guaranteed benefits of free housing, food and medical coverage will have less money to spend when they face the harsh realities of a $3.05 minimum wage.

okay, call it $3.55 now. while that wage might allow someone to eke out a living when they don't have to worry about paying for rent, utilities, food and medical care, it won't cut it when those contracts are canceled.

fact is that, based on the projected income of a 40 hour/week employee, and new rush of people will be eligible for government assistance.

it's not an insult, and it's not meant to be demeaning in any way. it's a fact that people will have to realize.

now, the problem with that is that FAS citizens are not eligible for the same government assistance under federal guidelines.

so how is this a step up?

what will happen is that everyone will gain the right to travel freely and work wherever they wish (and that, I say, they should be due), but those who stay for minimum wage sans benefits will experience the same lack of love that the local employees receive from their employers now.

like i said before, i know how it works because i lived that way for the past three and a half years.

granted i made more than the minimum wage, but i was living on a shoestring while my coworkers were able to take month-long vacations and actually save money or buy things.

half of my salary went to rent. then about a quarter to phone and utilities and the rest for food.

once in a while i'd have a couple of nickels to rub together and had a few barley pops with the boys, but not all that often.

imagine if i had a family...

what i'm saying is that i would've qualified for federal aid if i had other mouths to feed.

there's nothing out there for single guys but i would have been receiving the aid with a family because i am a US citizen.

the FAS people are not.

that's not a put down from me.

my point is that the feds will be making the change without supporting the folks who they are trying to help in the first place.

in my eye that's messed up.

it's like helping an old lady across the street but leaving her halfway during rush hour.

i don't think my view is an indictment on my parents and name calling isn't very nice.

i understand that you're fired up about this emotionally charged issue, but try to discuss this rationally.

i'm not above a good scrap once in a while but they're never effective in settling differences. all they do is let you blow off some steam.

you know who said...

brad, i lived out and paid for my rent, food and everything else, so you are not alone in that sense, believe me, it was hard. having to remit money back home and still fend for yourself here. we were surprised and baffled to that matter that you stayed as you preferred (due to the prestige of your work) to work as a reporter for three years, because you are american and could've gotten a job that pays more but you stayed. it was your choice, and of course not now.

it's obvious that most companies choose also non-resident workers because they don't complain about their measly salaries. we all come to that realization and i'm near there Brad. i am.

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