(AP) - Fending off charges of favoritism, House Democrats say a just-passed minimum wage bill will be changed to cover all U.S. territories - including American Samoa - before it reaches President Bush's desk. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters she has instructed the House Education and Labor Committee to help get the bill changed to "make sure that all of the territories have to comply with the U.S. law on minimum wage."Hold on! Stop the music! This Delegate from American Samoa says a minimum wage hike would devastate the tuna industry. So why then are we told that a minimum wage hike won't hurt small business owners in the 50 states?
Her remark Friday followed accusations from Republicans a day earlier that American Samoa, which is not now covered by the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage, was not included in the law raising the federal pay floor to $7.25 an hour because StarKist has a large cannery in the island chain. StarKist is owned by Del Monte Foods Co., which has its headquarters in San Francisco, Pelosi's district. [...]
Spokesmen for both Pelosi and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the author of the minimum wage bill, said it excluded American Samoa at the request of nonvoting Delegate Eni Faleomavaega, a Democrat who represents the Pacific island territories in the House. Raising the federal minimum wage would devastate the local tuna industry, Faleomavaega said in a statement last week, noting that American Samoa's economy is "more than 80 percent" dependent on two U.S. tuna processors, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist. Faleomavaega said the Labor Department reviews Samoa's minimum wages every two years.
Maybe the American economy isn't dependent on the corner general store, but the people that work there are dependent on the store for their jobs. Yet, when this is brought up every time we have a minimum wage debate, the Dems wave it off as a fairy tale. They can't have it both ways.