21 Mar 2008

US Congress members challenge American Samoan wage issue

1:35 pm on 21 March 2008

Two members of the US Congress have taken issue with the Department of Labor report on the impact of the minimum wage law on the economies of American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

The law provides for a gradual increase of the minimum wage to match US provisions.

The two lawmakers, George Miller and Ted Kennedy, have told the Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao that the report is one sided in that the department interviewed a number of government officials, business representatives and industry lobbyists, but did not obtain the views of workers.

The two say this is an incredible oversight in a report on the impact of a labour policy on living standards and employment.

They say the report failed to independently verify assertions and speculative statements made by business representatives but simply recorded and repeated their claims.

There are industry claims that if the wages are raised, it will prompt American Samoa's canneries to move away.