Opinion: Provide essential pay bonus to private sector workers, too

Dear Kandit News Group,

I’m reaching out to you on behalf on the private front line/essential worker sector of the CNMI. 

Governor Torres announced on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 that he will be giving premium pay for CNMI government employees:

“CNMI government employees who have worked on the front lines of the pandemic for at least forty (40) hours in directly mitigating COVID-19, such as providing prevention, response, preparedness, and recovery services, will be receiving $5,000.00 in premium pay.”

“CNMI government employees who have worked to provide essential public service to the Commonwealth during the pandemic will be receiving $1,000.00 in premium pay.”

As a front-line worker, myself I am more than pleased that these workers are receiving this premium. I believe it is well deserved. However, what about the non-government front line and essential workers? What about all the private sector non-government front line and essential workers that worked throughout the pandemic from day one? What about all those people that continued to show up to work potentially risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones to serve the people of our island? Front line workers and essential workers are NOT only CNMI Government employees. They too are well deserving of the premium pay that Governor Torres is releasing. Governor Torres is doing the island a disservice by bypassing these hardworking people of the CNMI. 

Subtitle M – Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”) Page 135 STAT. 226 (c) Requirements, states the (a) Appropriation of funds (B) “to respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency premium pay to eligible workers of the State, territory, or Tribal government that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work”

Has the option for “eligible employers” to apply for these grants been offered? I do not believe so. 

Section (g) Definitions (2) states: “Eligible workers –The term ‘eligible workers’ means those workers needed to maintain continuity of operations of essential critical infrastructure sectors and additional sectors as each Governor of a State or territory, or each Tribal government, may designate as critical to protect the health and well-being of the residents of their State, territory, or Tribal government” 

ARPA states the Governor has the authority to designate who is considered an “eligible worker.” From his press release it sounds like the only “eligible workers” he considers deserving of the ARPA funds are CNMI government employees. 

For all the non-government front line and essential workers: the pharmacy workers, the medical clinic workers, the grocery store workers, the convenience store workers, the gas station workers, the food service industry workers, the trash collection workers, the hardware supply workers, the liquor store workers, the office supply workers, and all the other workers who remained actively working during the pandemic serving the people of the CNMI, you ALL deserve premium pay. 

Please do right by the people of the CNMI.


A Concerned Citizen


  • Ralph is only trying to garner enough votes for next election. I agree with the writer that those he mentioned should be recognized. He’s so corrupted that he’s not thinking clearly. Happy New Year taotao marianas!

  • Torres is buying more votes as the Govt. workers are the biggest family voting blocks and each election cycle their jobs are held hostage for their vote. most do not understand that thie vote is private and are scared to vote against what they are told to do.
    In the past many were also told to take a picture of their filled ballot to prove who they voted for as their job is on the line.

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