Fitial Welcomes Proposed Amendment to Federal Minimum Wage Law
Released on: January 31, 2008, 10:27 am
Press Release Author: Public Information and Protocol Office
Press Release Summary: Governor Benigno R. Fitial yesterday commended Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (Democrat, American Samoa) for introducing federal legislation to amend a federal minimum wage law that would otherwise have a very detrimental effect on the CNMI and American Samoa economies.
Press Release Body: Governor Benigno R. Fitial yesterday commended Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (Democrat, American Samoa) for introducing federal legislation to amend a federal minimum wage law that would otherwise have a very detrimental effect on the CNMI and American Samoa economies.
"I thank Congressman Faleomavaega for prudently introducing H.R. 5154 in the U.S. Congress," said Fitial. "I am very happy that the underprivileged and underrepresented U.S. Insular areas have a great champion in Congressman Faleomavaega."
Faleomavaega's bill proposes to modify existing federal minimum wage law to allow the U.S. Secretary of Labor to prevent mandated federal minimum wage increases from damaging the CNMI and American Samoa economies. The bill specifically proposes to allow the U.S. Secretary of Labor to adjust federal wage increases based on an objective determination of their potential impact on the island economies, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Interior and the governments of both the CNMI and American Samoa.
Faleomavaega's timely bill comes on the heels of a recently released U.S. Labor Department Report expressing concern about the CNMI economy's ability to sustain future federal minimum wage hikes amid a slumping economy. The report also reached a similar conclusion regarding the imposition of further federal minimum wage hikes on American Samoa, which benefits from a vulnerable tuna canning industry.
Governor Fitial earlier hailed the U.S. Labor report as an objective and rational justification for a modification of existing federal minimum wage law as applied to the CNMI and American Samoa.
"This report justifies what this administration and our local business community have been projecting all along, in view of our current economic situation," Fitial said. "We are in absolute agreement with the assessment that further scheduled minimum wage increases for the CNMI are expected to add further challenges to an already declining economy."
The U.S. Labor report stated that "scheduled minimum wage increases for the CNMI are expected to add further challenges to an already declining economy." The report went on to cite pronounced economic weakness in the CNMI's two major industries: tourism and manufacturing.
Governor Fitial is prepared to submit testimony to support H.R. 5154 and protect the CNMI economy from further losses.
Fitial hopes the H.R. 5154 can be promptly addressed before the next wage hike takes place. However, the next federal minimum wage increase for the CNMI is scheduled for May 25, 2008.
According to Fitial, the CNMI's once promising call center industry has not developed because of scheduled federal minimum wage hikes and some businesses, including apparel factories, have already closed down, in part, because of federal minimum wage hikes in the CNMI.
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Contact Details: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Public Information and Protocol Office Office of the Governor Caller Box 10007 Capital Hill Saipan, MP 96950 Tel: (670) 664-2276 Fax: (670) 664-2290