Congressman Faleomavaega today issued the following statement after President Obama signed into law S. 2009 – the Insular Areas Act of 2011, which includes a provision to delay minimum wage increases in American Samoa until 2015. On July 17, 2012, the bill passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives by a vote of 378 to 11.
“I want to thank President Obama for signing this very important legislation which includes a delay on minimum wage increases for American Samoa until 2015,” Faleomavaega stated.
“The issue of minimum wage in American Samoa is one of necessity at this point in time. As I mentioned many times previously, for decades now American Samoa has been a single industry economy, and at this stage of our economic development, automatic wage increases will only exacerbate an already difficult situation for the local economy. In this regard, I am pleased with the support of my Congressional colleagues and the President to temporarily halt immediate wage increases in American Samoa.
“However, the minimum wage issue is also one of principle and I continue to have serious reservations about any further delays. Our workers in American Samoa deserve a fair wage consistent with the rest of the country and sufficient to meet the rising cost of living.”
“While I do believe in fair wages for our people, I am thankful that the enactment of S. 2009 will address the necessity of the minimum wage issue in the Territory by providing our local government with the time it needs to diversify our private-sector economy,”
“Again, I thank President Obama for supporting the people of American Samoa during our time of need,” Faleomavaega concluded.