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Tavita Tusitala

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Minumum wage in American Samoa higher than other islands
« on: August 04, 2009, 03:19:02 PM »
Samoa Governor asks President Obama to intervene on minimum wage issue
 Gov.Togiola Tulafono has written to President Barack Obama in request of a meeting to discuss the American Samoa minimum wage issue.

In a letter dated July 13, 2009, Governor Togiola said he believes the President’s intervention can have a significant impact on this single critical issue facing “a small, isolated and struggling economy in the middle of the South Pacific.”

Prior to July 24, 2007, the minimum wage rates for American Samoa were set by a special industry committee appointed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Presently, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-28) now sets minimum wage rates within American Samoa,” Governor Togiola wrote. “The Act mandates additional increases in the minimum wage of $0.50 per hour each year until we reach the minimum wage generally applicable in the United States.”

Governor Togiola told President Obama “there is absolutely no correlation between these increases and American Samoa’s economic development or our ability to sustain to them.”

“The tuna canning industry has been a mainstay of the American Samoa economy for the past five decades. Together, our two canneries employ half of the Territory’s entire workforce directly and indirectly,” said Governor Togiola. “This September, one of our two canneries is leaving. The second has already downsized by about twenty percent. This single industry meltdown is causing much uncertainty and instability within the business community and many businesses are facing possible downsizing or closure.”

Governor Togiola said the American Samoa Government (ASG) is facing severe financial shortfalls as tax revenues decrease and it is predicted that as many as 7,500 people will lose their jobs during this year if nothing is done.

Governor Togiola said there is presently a rush to find ways to replace the exiting cannery jobs with new industry but American Samoa can only do so much when the federally imposed minimum wage is several times higher than on neighboring islands.


 


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