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Still, workers at RIFU and other Saipan garment factories labor six days a week, sometimes up to 20 hours a day. There were two critical exceptions, however: The U. agreed to exempt the islands from the minimum wage requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (allowing the islands to set their own lower minimum wage, currently .05, compared to .15 in the U.

In one tin dwelling, three women share a queen-sized bed that rests on a slab of concrete.

The smell of frying vegetables wafts from the “kitchen”—a few hot plates and water-filled plastic buckets set outside on a concrete counter. As they cluster outside, near a thin clothesline that doubles as a closet, one woman says that she’s worked here for two years and is nowhere close to paying the money back to her recruiter; the others shake their heads in agreement.

De Lay himself, the billing records showed, met or talked with Abramoff about the Marianas at least two dozen times in 19 alone.

Abramoff would later summarize his early Marianas lobbying successes in the 2001 letter to Tenorio: “We worked with the House leadership to assure the [minimum wage] bill would not move to the House floor, even if the [Resources] committee did act.

We then stopped it cold in the House,” Abramoff wrote in a 2001 letter to the governor of the Marianas, Pedro P. Even a 1999 bill, sponsored by New Jersey Republican Rep.

Bob Franks, died in the Resources Committee, despite having 243 co-sponsors—a substantial majority of House members, and enough to ensure passage on the floor.It also allowed us to acquire some very powerful allies, such as Majority Whip Tom De Lay.” Three of De Lay’s former aides would end up joining Abramoff’s lobby ing team and working on the Marianas account. Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee and a leading sponsor of reform legislation, told Ms., “The combination of De Lay and Abramoff kept anything from being considered in Congress for years.[The Northern Marianas] was a multimillion dollar client of Abramoff, and De Lay was actively working to make sure his friend was able to protect his client.” With the election of George W. Inside this large warehouse, behind a guarded metal fence, 300 employees—most of them Chinese women—cut, sew, iron and fold blouses with such efficiency and focus that they seem like machinery themselves.From piles of orange and pink fabric, the workers will produce over 15,000 garments today for J. These name brand companies don’t own the factory; like Liz Claiborne, The Gap, Ralph Lauren and others, they subcontract production to factories like this, scattered around the tiny Micronesian island of Saipan.During his 1998 New Year’s holiday trip, he told Saipan officials, as was later reported in The Dallas Observer, "When one of my closest and dearest friends, Jack Abramoff, your most able representative in Washington, D.

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