China-based contractors ordered to pay $13.9M to thousands of employees

Imperial Pacific

Saipan, CNMI – Four China-based construction firms will have to pay nearly $14 million in back wages and damages to 2,400 foreign workers who built the Saipan Casino and Hotel.

The U.S. Department of Labor issued a release announcing that it had finalized a series of settlements with the four contractors who will collectively pay $13.9 million to the employees who came from China.

According to USDOL, the four contractors violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by paying their workers less than the minimum wage and also failed to pay them overtime. They also required the foreign laborers to pay for their own airfare and recruitment fees of more than $6,000.

The four contractors are MCC International Saipan Ltd. Co., Beilida New Materials System Engineering Co. Ltd., Gold Mantis Construction Decoration, and Sino Great Wall International Engineering Co. LLC.

Three of the four companies–MCC, Belinda and Gold Mantis–also illegally brought in some of the workers under a tourist visa instead of a work visa.

“These settlements ensure that thousands of workers will receive the wages they legally earned, while simultaneously sending a strong, clear message to other employers,” said Wage and Hour Acting Administrator Bryan Jarrett. “Employers who evade the law in an attempt to reduce expenses must not gain a competitive advantage over those who play by the rules.  Regardless of where work is performed in the U.S. or its territories, we will continue to enforce the law and level the playing field.”

The USDOL says their investigation into unfair labor practices is not over. They continue to investigate other ongoing casino and hotel projects in the CNMI.

“As the Department of Labor works to prevent visa fraud and abuse, this case represents an example of the Department’s strong commitment to protecting the American workforce by enforcing the law,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.