Congresswoman Introduces Bill To Exempt American Samoa From Federal Minimum Wage

Office of Congresswoman Aumua Amata
Washington, DC

June 21, 2017

Congresswoman Aumua Amata introduced legislation on Tuesday the American Samoa Jobs Protection and Expansion Act, which will do a great deal to assist American Samoa’s ability to retain and attract new businesses to the territory.

“For too long, the federal government has placed American Samoa on the same economic playing field as the states, which lie halfway across the vast Pacific Ocean. This has caused many issues regarding the territory’s ability to attract new investment in the island, and has in fact caused many businesses to leave,” stated Amata. “While we love this nation, and cherish the relationship we have with the United States, it is extremely irresponsible for the federal government to say that American Samoa should become more self-sustaining, while at the same time forcing burdensome regulations on the territory such as the federal mandate for a minimum wage, and the closing off of large swaths of the ocean which our people have utilized for centuries,” she continued.

Specifically, Congresswoman Amata’s bill would amend the “Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007” to restore the system in place prior to 2007. Prior to 2007, the minimum wage in American Samoa was set by a Special Industry Committee under the direction of the Department of Labor. This system allowed American Samoa companies to maintain an equal footing with foreign competition who have no minimum wage at all.

“Ideally, I would like nothing more than for our companies to be able to pay much higher wages to our people, and be able to maintain their ability to operate, but that is just not the case in the real world,” said Aumua.

She said, “Our people know all too well just how precarious our cannery is in regards to competition from nations who have no minimum wage and zero to little regulations on their fishing operations, as we saw one of the two close it operations last year.

“We also know just how important the remaining cannery is to our local economy, and my bill will go a very long way in making sure that Starkist continues to call American Samoa home for many years to come,” continued the Congresswoman.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to get this bill through both chambers, and onto the President’s desk as soon as possible. The sooner we get this done, the sooner our local businesses will have the stability they need to plan for the future,” concluded Congresswoman Amata.

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