|June 13, 2002
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—DEL MONTE AND HEINZ REQUEST MEETING WITH FALEOMAVAEGA TO DISCUSS FUTURE STATUS OF STARKIST|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that Del Monte and Heinz have requested to meet with him
on June 25, 2002 to discuss the future of StarKist in American Samoa.
“As of today, Heinz has officially
announced that Del Monte will soon own and operate eight former Heinz factories,
including the StarKist facility in American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega
said. “As I stated yesterday, the investment firm Texas Pacific Group
(TPG), which owns approximately 47% of Del Monte’s stocks, has entered
into an agreement which would allow Del Monte to own and operate the StarKist
facility in American Samoa. The Board of Directors for the new Del
Monte company may also include past executives from Heinz.”
“For the first time in our 40-year history, we are confronted with new challenges and uncertainties. For forty years, StarKist has been exclusively owned and operated by the H.J. Heinz Company. Now, StarKist will come under the Del Monte label, under the umbrella of a new company. This new company may place different priorities on tuna production in American Samoa,” the Congressman said.
“At this point, we also do not know what Del Monte’s position will be on the Andean Trade Agreement. What we do know is that Del Monte owns companies and facilities in the Philippines. We also know that the Philippine government stands united with American Samoa in opposing the inclusion of canned tuna in the ATPA. In fact, I met with the Political and Economic Ministers of the Philippines on Tuesday of this week. The Ambassador of Thailand, representatives from Indonesia, Chicken of the Sea, Thai Union, Bumble Bee and the U.S. boat owners also attended this meeting held in my office on June 10, 2002,” Faleomavaega said.
“During the course of our discussions, we agreed to work in partnership as the House and Senate move toward a position of compromise,” the Congressman continued. “Given the fact that the H.J. Heinz company just sold StarKist when for months we have been told that StarKist is not for sale, I am thankful that as a people we have stood united on the ATPA issue. Our people and the rest of our friends in the Asia Pacific Region know that if canned tuna is included in the ATPA, American Samoa will suffer.”
“Now, more than ever, we must continue to stand together. Regrettably, we are disappointed that the H.J. Heinz Company made no official contact with the leaders of our Territory about the sale of the StarKist cannery. We are also disappointed that Heinz made no official contact before supporting the ATPA,” Faleomavaega said. “Despite our disappointment, we must move forward with confidence.”
“The people of American Samoa must remember that some fifty years ago, U.S. corporate attitudes towards Samoan tuna cannery workers was not very positive. Yet ironically, since 1975, the total value of tuna sold in the U.S. from American Samoa is well over $7 billion, with annual gross sales now around $400 million per year. We also must not forget that the largest tuna canning facility in the world was built by the hands of Samoans.”
“I hope that Del Monte recognizes that the people of American Samoa have played a critical role in developing and sustaining the viability of the U.S. tuna industry for all these years,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The fact that Del Monte contacted my office to request a meeting to discuss StarKist operations in American Samoa is a positive sign that this new management may be interested in building stronger community relations.”
“I will be in American Samoa this weekend and it is my intention to invite the Governor and the Fono leaders to participate in the meeting to be held in my D.C. office on June 25, 2002. It is also my intention to recommend that Del Monte send a delegation to American Samoa so that our people and our cannery workers can also participate in these discussions,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“After a 40-year partnership with the U.S. tuna industry, the people of American Samoa deserve to participate in this dialogue and I am hopeful that Del Monte will begin these discussions as soon as possible,” Faleomavaega concluded.
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