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:
· Sophia Yan, "Workers building Saipan casino say Chinese firms misled them," Associated Press, March 14, 2018 (This article also appeared in numerous other outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post).
· Evening News, KSPN2 News, 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 Times, Washington Post, and numerous other outlets).