By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) Scores of nurses and other health workers joined scores of strangers at a protest today to demand Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero pay government front liners the double pay and hazard pay they have earned.
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes, Sen. Jim Moylan, and Republican senatorial candidate Vince Borja also joined the protestors at the ITC intersection in Tamuning.
"They need to be paid, this needs to be made right," Ms. Muna Barnes said. She is joining the front liners in demanding the governor make good on the government's legal obligation to pay front liners emergency and differential pay.
The health workers are protesting because the governor has refused to pay them and other front liners at the rate of double their hourly rate for every hour they work during the public health emergency. The obligation comes from the Department of Administration Personnel Rules and Regulations Rule 8.406.
The tipping point for public health nurses was the recent release of retroactive pay for hazard pay for the hours they have worked since mid-March. The nurses received payment for only one of the last seven weeks worked.
"My co-workers have been saddened, morale has been down," public health nurse Lyanne Mendiola said. "Most of us are working six days a week, and we're not getting paid for the Saturdays we work. We're not getting the emergency pay. We only got paid one week of hazard pay for the past seven or eight weeks that we've been working this crisis."
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Suzanne Kaneshiro joined the nurses at the protest, and has been a motivating force for her nurses to continue working, but to demand what they have earned.
Ms. Muna Barnes also shared her concern that the administration is not remitting gross payroll to workers, and said the Legislature will be asking these questions.
"For the governor, you are a nurse, you should have some understanding of what we're going through and you should know how to empathize with us," Ms. Mendiola said.
Her newly wed husband, Jesse Mendiola, was waving at hundreds of passersby honking their horns and givings thumb up in support of his wife and her co-workers.
"Governor, you claim to be a nurse, but your actions clearly indicate otherwise," Mr. Mendiola said. "It's like we're watching a horror movie unfold in real life, in real time. Just do what is right! Thank you."