Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he will meet with Mr. Thiraphong Chansiri, Chairman and President of Thai Union, during his upcoming trip to Thailand on Sunday July 1, 2007. Faleomavaega will also tour Thai Union’s facility which includes the world’s largest tuna canning operation.
“Thai Union owns Chicken of the Sea/Samoa Packing and I believe it is very important to learn firsthand what Thai Union’s commitment is to American Samoa and our tuna cannery workers,” Faleomavaega said. “Recently, Mr. Jim Davet, Senior Vice President of Operations for Chicken of the Sea/Samoa Packing, threatened to lay off 200 workers at Samoa Packing in response to federal law which now increases minimum wage by $0.50 per hour.”
“So far, this is a one-time increase but Mr. Davet has wrongly assumed that there will be further increases every year thereafter. What the law says is that Congress will review the matter again after 8 months to see if further increases are justified.”
“In the meantime, Congress has directed the Department of Labor to begin a study to see if our economy and tuna canneries and local government can afford further increases. If they cannot, now is the time for Samoa Packing to come forward and provide my office with information showing why it cannot afford to pay our workers better wages.”
“I have asked StarKist and ASG for similar information to justify their position. Last weekend, I also met with John Signorino, CEO of Chicken of the Sea/Samoa Packing, in hopes that we could work together on a long-term solution that is a win-win for our canneries and our workers.”
“At this time, we have work to do, and this is why I am pleased that the Chairman of Thai Union which owns Samoa Packing has agreed to meet with me. I am deeply appreciative that he cares enough about our cannery workers to take time from his busy schedule to discuss the future of Samoa Packing. When I return from Thailand, I will update our people as to the outcome of our discussions, and I will continue to do everything I can to protect our economy and our workers including those who work at our tuna canneries as well as for our local government,” Faleomavaega concluded.