Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that in light of the new minimum wage law, the Special Industry Committee for minimum wage in American Samoa has been dissolved. The announcement was made public in today’s Federal Register which published an official notice.
“As noted in the Federal Register, the Industry Committee has been dissolved ‘because of provisions contained in section 8103 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act of 1007 that repeal current sections 5, 6(a)(3), and 8 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended, (FLSA) (29 U.S.C. 205, 206(a)(3), and 208), effective July 24, 2007,’” Faleomavaega said. “The repeal of the above mentioned FLSA provisions also dissolves the Department of Labor’s authority to convene American Samoa Industry Committees.”
“Minimum wage in American Samoa will now be increased by $0.50 per hour beginning on July 24, 2007 for those employees making less than the current minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. After 8 months, the Department of Labor will issue a report about the impact this increase of $0.50 per hour may have on our economy,” Faleomavaega said. “If it appears that the economy cannot absorb increases every year thereafter as now mandated by law, then Congress will revisit this issue.”
“In fact, I have already requested that the Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Insular Affairs hold a hearing so that the U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of the Interior, government officials from CNMI and American Samoa can testify. I have also requested that our tuna industry and U.S. tuna boat owners also be invited to testify about the impact further increases might have on the economy of American Samoa.”
“As I have said again and again, I support a one-time increase and no escalator clauses. This is why Chairman George Miller accepted my request to shorten the Department of Labor’s economic review from 32 months to 8 months so that we would have a cushion to prevent an automatic escalation in year two. However, before we can ask Congress to completely get rid of escalator clauses, it is essential that we gather the appropriate data and facts. We must gather as much information as we can to get a clearer picture of what is going on in American Samoa.”
“This is why I have requested a hearing and why in the forthcoming week I will also be requesting information from ASG and our canneries regarding the number and salaries of their employees. Of course, they will not identify individual names but I will request that they, as well as our local businesses, provide my office with pertinent information which will be helpful to Congress.”
“Until we do our part, we cannot ask Congress to take further action. However, once we gather information and build a strong case as to why our economy cannot afford further increases, then I will present our case to Congress and will spare no effort in making sure ASG, our canneries, local businesses, and their employees are protected for the long-term,” Faleomavaega concluded.