Aaron Halegua Discusses $14 Million Settlement for Saipan Workers

 (Image courtesy of  Daniel Lin )

(Image courtesy of Daniel Lin)

On March 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor announced settlements with four Chinese contractors for $14 million and involving over 2,400 workers who built the Imperial Pacific casino in Saipan. These workers paid $6,000 or more to labor brokers in China, incurring significant debts with high interest rates, based on false promises of high-paying jobs in the United States. Instead, upon arriving in Saipan, the workers were stripped of their passports, forced to work long hours under dangerous conditions, and paid below minimum wage.

Affiliated Scholar Aaron Halegua, who assisted the workers during this process, was quoted by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, South China Morning Post, Voice of America (Mandarin), Sing Tao Daily, KSPN2 News, and Marianas Variety. He was also interviewed on the Voice of America (Mandarin) television news program on March 15. He discussed the importance of the settlement and the measures necessary to prevent similar abuses from happening again. Specifically, he recommended that the casino, at a minimum, require contractors to purchase surety bonds, train workers about their rights, and hire a third-party monitor to oversee safety and labor conditions.

In the Media:

·      塞班岛:一块很像中国的美国领土?[Saipan: A Piece of America that Resembles China?], Voice of America (Mandarin) (美国之音), March 16, 2018.

·      如何落实美国劳工部为中国工人追讨的欠薪? [How will the USDOL's recovery of backpay for Chinese workers be implemented?], Voice of America Televsion (Mandarin) (美国之音), March 15, 2018.

·      Sophia Yan, "Workers building Saipan casino say Chinese firms misled them," Associated Press, March 14, 2018 (also appearing in the Washington PostNew York Times, and numerous other outlets).

·      Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa, "Local DOL: Construction workers can claim back wages in NMI," Marianas Variety, March 9, 2018. 

·      Evening News, KSPN2 News, March 7, 2018.

·      "数千华裔黑工遭欠薪;劳工部出售讨回公道" ["Thousands of Illegal Chinese Workers Suffer Wage Arrears; Department of Labor Seeks Path to Justice"], Sing Tao Daily, March 7, 2018 ).

·      Mimi Lau, "'If we go home now, we'll die': Chinese couple in Saipan back-pay row vow to fight on despite US labour deal," South China Morning Post, March 7, 2018.

·      Sophia Yan, "Chinese firms will pay $14 million back wages in Saipan case," Associated Press, March 6, 2018 (also appearing in the New York TimesWashington Post, and numerous other outlets).