Pelosi: Raise the Minimum Wage! (Er, Except if it Affects a Company in my District)

Heh. Something fishy is going on:

House Republicans yesterday declared “something fishy” about the major tuna company in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district being exempted from the minimum-wage increase that Democrats approved this week.
“I am shocked,” said Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican and his party’s chief deputy whip, noting that Mrs. Pelosi campaigned heavily on promises of honest government. “Now we find out that she is exempting hometown companies from minimum wage. This is exactly the hypocrisy and double talk that we have come to expect from the Democrats.”
…The bill also extends for the first time the federal minimum wage to the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. However, it exempts American Samoa, another Pacific island territory that would become the only U.S. territory not subject to federal minimum-wage laws.
One of the biggest opponents of the federal minimum wage in Samoa is StarKist Tuna, which owns one of the two packing plants that together employ more than 5,000 Samoans, or nearly 75 percent of the island’s work force. StarKist’s parent company, Del Monte Corp., has headquarters in San Francisco, which is represented by Mrs. Pelosi. The other plant belongs to California-based Chicken of the Sea.
“There’s something fishy going on here,” said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, North Carolina Republican….A spokeswoman for Mrs. Pelosi said Wednesday that the speaker has not been lobbied in any way by StarKist or Del Monte.

Yes, it’s all just one big coincidence!!!
And golly gee, I was quite surprised to discover that this was missed by those who were going to be “holding the Dems accountable” and wouldn’t just “monitor” (cheerlead) them as new bills went through the House and Senate. (Well, maybe they’ll get around to it eventually). To help ’em along, perhaps they should also read this from the Saipan Tribune:

Democrats have long tried to pull the Northern Marianas under the umbrella of U.S. labor law, accusing the island’s government and its industry leaders of coddling sweatshops and turning a blind eye to forced abortions and indentured servitude.
Samoa has escaped such notoriety, and its low-wage canneries have a protector of a different political stripe, Democratic delegate Eni F.H. Faleomavaega, whose campaign coffers have been well stocked by the tuna industry that virtually runs his island’s economy.

Faleomavaega has long made it clear he did not believe his island’s economy could handle the federal minimum wage, issuing statements of sympathy for a Samoan tuna industry competing with South American and Asian canneries paying workers about 67 cents an hour.
The message got through to House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., the author of the minimum wage bill who included the Marianas but not Samoa, according to committee aides. The aides said the Samoan economy does not have the diversity and vibrance to handle the mainland’s minimum wage, nor does the island have anything like the labor rights abuses Miller claims of the Marianas…
…But in American Samoa the tuna industry rules the roost. Canneries employ nearly 5,000 workers on the island, or 40 percent of the work force, paying on average $3.60 an hour, compared to $7.99 an hour for Samoan government employees. Samoan minimum wage rates are set by federal industry committees, which visit the island every two years…
When StarKist lobbied in the past to prevent small minimum wage hikes, Faleomavaega denounced the efforts.
“StarKist is a billion dollar a year company,” he said after a 2003 meeting with StarKist and Del Monte executives. “It is not fair to pay a corporate executive $65 million a year while a cannery work only makes $3.60 per hour.”
But after the same meeting, Faleomavaega said he understood that the Samoan canneries were facing severe wage competition from South American and Asian competitors.
Department of Interior testimony last year before the Senate noted that canneries in Thailand and the Philippines were paying their workers about 67 cents an hour. If the canneries left American Samoa en masse, the impact would be devastating, leaving Samoans wards of the federal welfare state, warned David Cohen, deputy assistant secretary of the interior for insular affairs.{emphasis added)

Faleomavaega understands that it makes economic sense to pay a lower wage and keep all of those jobs on his island instead of forcing a higher wage on employers who may then move the jobs elsewhere. I guess “sweat shops” aren’t “sweat shops” when “market forces” are just too strong to impose a higher minimum wage in a Democrat’s district.
Yup, this looks exactly like the sort of hypocrisy they claimed they’d be on the lookout for. Can’t wait to see ’em in action!

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
19 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
George
George
14 years ago

Hmm, nothing about this on RI Future!

brassband
brassband
14 years ago

I’m not so sure that Pelosi should be condemned for this.
As I understand it, the tuna industry on American Samoa faces stiff competition from Asia and would be wiped out if the new minimum wage law applied.
Isn’t excluding American Samoa consistent with conservative views about the minimum wage generally? If Pelosi is allowing the right thing to be done there (even if only there) should we criticize or applaud?

donroach
14 years ago

George,
don’t expect anything either.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

We progressives owe it to ourselves to call shenanigans on the Speaker here. I’ll do it myself on RIF the next time a Pelosi item comes up.

Justin Katz
14 years ago

Isn’t excluding American Samoa consistent with conservative views about the minimum wage generally?

I think conservatives ought to be wary about granting the government a license to determine what industries/businesses can afford to abide by minimum wage laws. Samoa, being an island, offers an excellent illustration of one of the problems with minimum wage policies. Conservatives, rather, ought to take the opportunity to explain that these market forces exist — and confound efforts to force-raise wages — whether they’re starkly apparent or buried under social and political distractions.

Al Fin
14 years ago

The news media is in bed with the Democratic Party. So don’t expect the news media to highlight Pelosi’s crass hypocrisy, as they would if republicans did something even slightly as disingenuous.

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

Justin is cutting to the heart of the matter. To be clear: I posted this item to exhibit that the Speaker was being manifestly hypocritical with regards to how her overarching rhetoric differed substantially to the actions she took to insulate a company in her own backyard.
The Speaker would rather pander to a large Democrat constituency…and, apparently, that constituency is more than happy to let her get away with it.
Which leads to the second point I wanted to make: that certain outlets who purport to be on the lookout for such hypocrisy…well…really aren’t.
Finally, I hope it’s obvious that the economic considerations exhibited by the Speaker’s sound fiscal judgement on the acute issue of the American Samoa portion of the tuna industry is something that can be extrapolated throughout the country (and it’s territories). If she’s willing to follow standard, fiscally conservative policy there, why not elsewhere?

Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
14 years ago

Hi!
I support an increase in the minimum wage.What it should be is debateable.
I did address the Nancy Pelosi hypocrisy on the Rhode Island Future blog go to http://rifuture.com/blog/?p=3067#comments ,.
I do not believe the GOP needs to be a puppet of organized labor but it needs to reach out to working class Americans more.
Serious issues of affordable health care and affordable housing are issues that puts great financial pressures on Rhode Island households and need to be adequately addressed in our state.
I am still a Republican and Republicans need to faciltate addressing their positions on these issues.
We need to look at imports and the respective policies of those countries on how they treat labor.
Regards,
Scott

Ted Remington
Ted Remington
14 years ago

According to this web site, there ARE federal minimum wages in Samoa, but they have been traditionally far below those of the rest of the United States. http://www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/americanSamoa/ASminwage.htm
The minimum wage rates for American Samoa are set by a special industry committee (29 U.S.C. 205, 29 C.F.R. Part 511) appointed by the U.S. Department of Labor, as required by the Act.
If you look at the minimum wage rates published therein you will find:
Bottling $3.19/hour
Construction $3.60/hour
Finance and Insurance $3.99/hour
Fish canning $3.26/hour
Garment manufacturing $2.68/hour
Government employees $2.91/hour
Hotel $3.00/hour
Petroleum marketing $3.85/hour
Printing $3.50/hour
Hospitals and education $3.33/hour
Publishing $3.63/hour
retail, wholesale, warehousing $3.10/hour
Ship maintenance $3.51/hour
Shipping $3.88 – $4.09/hour
Tour and travel services $3.48/hour
Miscellaneous $2.70/hour
So, don’t you think that the Washington Times might have, as usual gotten its facts wrong either accidentally or (dare I say it) on purpose?
This was a hatchet job, pure and simple. The new minimum wage law merely continued the status quo, as anyone who wanted to determine could find out with less than ten minutes internet work.

Marc Comtois
14 years ago

Ted:
The new minimum wage law merely continued the status quo…
Gee, but I thought the whole point of the legislation was to raise the Fed. Min. wage because it wasn’t a “living wage”, etc. Not to just keep the “status quo”. C’mon! where’s the revolution? Where’s the new day!!!????
Nice try, but the Times et al are talking about “the” Federal Minimum wage not a special territorial one that breaks down the wages based on industry. You mean to tell me that liberal progressives would sit still for that if it was tried here in the mainland?
Right.
I can just imagine if it the law stated that cleaning ladies could make $5/hour but short order cooks could make $6/hour.
Seems to me like the rhetoric ain’t matching the legislated reality. Why are the Dems treating the American Samoan’s like second-class citizens?

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Wow, that didn’t take long. She’s been Speaker what, all of two weeks?
Pelosi’s exclusion of companies in her own district from the minimum wage law is bald hypocrisy and the worst of bad government practices. Laws must apply across the board.
It’s also anti-labor. A ton of labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, contributed to her campaign. (I append the link below for Jusin …) Do they have anything to say about this little maneuver pulled by the recipient of a whole lot of their hard earned union dues?
http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.asp?CID=N00007360&cycle=2006

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

(Justin, not Jusin.)

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

Scott’s right. Anything that encourages the GOP to reach out to working families that aren’t so well off is all good.

Scott Bill Hirst
Scott Bill Hirst
14 years ago

Hi!
The bigger questions needs to be does labor deserve the right to be able to afford basic human necessities of food and shelter?
Obviously the market does drive prices.However the affordable housing crisis is real and not imaginary.We need as Republicans to address nutrition and housing needs.We just can’t oppose the Democrats agenda.A pro family GOP agenda must show that Republicans are indeed not the party of the rich.That the GOP has solutions for these human problems will enhance our party.
Regards,
Scott

smmtheory
smmtheory
14 years ago

Why must that solution be at the expense of a thriving economy Scott?

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

If the GOP is ever to overcome its stigma as party of the rich (which I don’t necessarily believe anymore), it has to show its support for working families with some concrete proposals and action, instead of just throwing in the phrase “working families” for cheap pop when it fights abortion or gay marriage.

ralph
ralph
14 years ago

The rise in house values in Rhode Island has been the result of market forces – all those New Yorkers buying second homes.
Government intervention could take two forms: the dictation of prices or the amplification of assistance programs – funded by taxes. Artificial pricing is not a likely route. And lots and lots of taxes would be needed to counter these market forces. Should this even be considered when taxes are already so high here?
BTW, Democrats as the party sympathetic to working families and high living expenses is a myth in this state. A more accurate description of the relationship is of vampire and victim.
The best thing Republicans can do is hammer this point home while presenting a plan for real assistance to working families in the form of more reasonable spending and lower taxes.

ralph
ralph
14 years ago

The rise in house values in Rhode Island has been the result of market forces – all those New Yorkers buying second homes.
Government intervention could take two forms: the dictation of prices or the amplification of assistance programs – funded by taxes. Artificial pricing is not a likely route. And lots and lots of taxes would be needed to counter these market forces. Should this even be considered when taxes are already so high here?
BTW, Democrats as the party sympathetic to working families and high living expenses is a myth in this state. A more accurate description of the relationship is of vampire and victim.
The best thing Republicans can do is hammer this point home while presenting a plan for real assistance to working families in the form of more reasonable spending and lower taxes.

MsRighty
MsRighty
14 years ago

There was some reporting that Nancy’s hubby Paul owns millions of dollars in Del Monte stock via some sort of holding company. Is there any confirmation of this? Seems like it makes Ms. Pelosi’s actions that much more diabolical if it’s true…

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.