Has Pelosi "played ball" with special interest, only days after trumpeting new ethics reform?
Del Monte Foods, a San Francisco based company, lobbied to protect American Samoa from the Min. Wage hike, and they succeeded:
The Washington Times writes...
Although the legislation specifically extends for the first time the federal minimum wage to the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands, it exempts American Samoa, another Pacific island territory that would become the only U.S. territory not subject to federal minimum-wage laws.
"It's ironic to me that one of the first bills they bring up that promises across-the-board fairness for all has an exception," said Steve Forde, Republican spokesman for the House Education and Labor Committee.
Democrats agreed yesterday that pay rates in Samoa should be raised and that the minimum wage should be uniform across all U.S. territories.
The loophole pleases the tuna corporations that employ thousands of Samoans in canneries there at $3.26 an hour -- an industry-specific rate set by the U.S. Department of Labor. They have lobbied Congress for years, arguing that imposing the federal minimum wage on Samoa would cripple the economy by driving the canneries to poor countries that don't require a minimum wage.
One of the biggest opponents of the U.S. minimum wage there 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. The other plant belongs to California-based Chicken of the Sea.
StarKist's parent company, Del Monte Corp., is headquartered in San Francisco, which is represented by Mrs. Pelosi.