Daily Archives: January 9, 2007

An Exemption Already? – The Minimum Wage, Samoa, and the DLC

Last night I decided to re-animate Dispatch from the Trenches (see description at right under “About”) at its old site on Blogger. I intended this to be the first new post but true to Blogger form it’s down again so I’m posting it here. *sigh* I guess maybe it would be better if I found a new host….again. (Are they ever going to get it together?)

I think everybody not a millionaire thinks it’s about time the minimum wage got raised to something like a level that at least matches the inflation rate, and all power to the Democrats for finally taking the first step toward that goal. We’ve been waiting a long time.

But this is disturbing.

After years of protection from the likes of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff, employers on the Northern Mariana Islands would finally have to pay workers the federal minimum wage under legislation before the House tomorrow.Democrats have long tried to pull the Northern Marianas under the umbrella of U.S. labor laws, accusing the island government and its industry leaders of coddling sweatshops and turning a blind eye to forced abortions and indentured servitude. But Abramoff, the once-powerful Republican lobbyist now in federal prison, spent millions of dollars from the island and its business interests currying favor with Republicans, aligning support with conservative interest groups and thwarting every effort to intervene in the Northern Marianas’ economy.

But Republican leadership aides accused the Democrats of using a double standard by imposing the higher minimum wage on a government with a Republican representative to the United States while continuing to exempt a territory with a Democratic delegate. American Samoa and the tuna industry that dominates its economy would remain free to pay wages that are less than half the bill’s mandatory minimum. Continue reading