Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios today issued a statement calling for the payment of premium pay for frontline workers in the private sector. It is notable that, if Gov. Ralph Torres is removed from office, Mr. Palacios would ascend to the governor’s office and would have discretion over the use of federal ARPA funds granted to the CNMI government.
Here is the lieutenant governor’s statement:
I am delighted to see that our frontline workers have received their premium pay for their work in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic. With this public health emergency still upon us and with the effects it has had on our economy, this payment is a much welcome relief to our eligible government workers. More importantly though, it is a recognition and a token of our appreciation for their bravery, courage, and sacrifices, in keeping us safe during this pandemic. Make no mistake, this premium pay is rightfully theirs, as it is clearly provided for under the ARRPA funding, and they have earned it.
Our fellow workers in the private sector are still waiting for their premium pay. That must change. Just like in the government, there are frontline and essential workers in the private sector too. They deserve to be recognized for their courage and sacrifices as well. These include the cashiers, the gas attendants, the restaurant and catering employees, the bank tellers, the non- profit organization and social services employees, the private nurses, the cleaners and staff at the Covid testing, vaccination, and quarantine sites, the warehouse and supply chain workers, just to name a few. They all sacrificed too and did their part to keep our daily lives going during this pandemic. It is only right that they receive their premium pay as provided for in the ARRPA funding. In the true spirit of a One Marianas, eligible private sector employees should all be paid their premium pay without any further delay.
Let us not forget the courageous DFEMS-9 firefighters, as they too deserve to be paid their premium pay, if they haven’t received theirs already. During the early months of the pandemic and at the height of uncertainty surrounding this global public health emergency, these brave firefighters placed their lives on the line on a daily basis so you and I can be safe. There is no disputing that they worked during the course of this on-going pandemic. We are indebted to them, and the very least we can do is recognize their sacrifices, including those of their families that they left behind at home each time they reported to work in order that we remain safe.
We are all in this fight together against the Covid-19 pandemic — the government sector and the private sector! Pay our heroes their premium pay now!