17 Jan 2007

American Samoa leaders still fear territory's inclusion in federal wages bill

9:42 am on 17 January 2007

American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono and Congressman Faleomavaega Eni are contacting leaders of the U.S. Congress to ensure that American Samoa is not included in the federal minimum wage bill.

The U.S. House version of the measure, which also affects the Northern Marianas, was passed last week and a similar bill is to be considered by the the U.S. Senate.

Togiola and Faleomavaega says inclusion of American Samoa in the measure would be a disaster for the territory's economy.

Faleomavaega plans to meet either today or tomorrow with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said earlier that she plans to have American Samoa included in the measure before it goes to the President.

Faleomavaega is quoted by the newspaper as saying that increasing the territory's minimum wage to mirror federal levels would devastate the local tuna industry.

He says more than 80 percent of the local private sector is dependent either directly or indirectly on the two canneries.

In statement over the weekend Togiola said including American Samoa in the bill would kill the territory's economy.