View Full Version : Pelosi exempts SF business from Min Wage
01-12-2007, 08:23 AM
In its old "Charley the Tuna" ads, Starkist used to say that it doesn't want tuna with good taste, but rather tuna that taste good. To the extent that Starkist doesn't want House Speaker's with good taste, it seems to have what it wants in Nancy Pelosi.
The conglomorate that owns Starkist, Delmonte, is headquartered in Speaker Pelosi's district in San Francisco. Starkist processes large amounts of tuna in American Samoa. Apparently, 75 percent of the island's workforce is employed by Starkist.
It happens that American Samoa is the one territory exempted from legislation passed by the the House that will raise the minimum wage over time from $5.15 hour to $7.25. The reach of that law extends even to the islands of the Northern Marinas, but not to American Samoa, where Nancy Pelosi's giant constituent will be able to keep paying its workers $5.15 an hour.
01-12-2007, 09:26 AM
Sorry, Charlie. Pork-barrel tuna? Sounds fishy. ;) I wonder what's going on under the surface? I'll do some digging and see what I can find on this.
Apparently, the bulk of Starkist's tuna fishing is done around American Samoa, but the corporation's tuna processing is done in California, where workers will get paid the higher minimum wage, and in Europe, where I don't know what they get paid.
For some background, here is some info on the tuna industry from the US Dept. of Labor:
Here's an interesting private page with material on American Samoa and Starkist: http://epic.ragingweb.com/where/tuna/
01-12-2007, 09:39 AM
Funny, the previous minimum wage seemed to apply to Samoa just fine. Has something changed?
This is what I like about the Dem approach to laws and equal enforcement... it never works for Dem's that way. There are always exceptions that seem to apply to Dems and friends of Dems. Notice how blatant Pelosi is about it... yet she never mentioned it to the press. All the 9/11 Commission recommendations are going to be implemented... except for a quiet few she didn't mention publicly. There will be bi-partisanship... except for a while. We will definitely not defund the war (this to get conservative votes).... except maybe we will if we can get away with it. We will clean up the corruption.... except for Mollohan, Murtha, Jefferson, Reid, Conyers, and so on.
However, I'm not complaining. This is exactly what's needed.. to see the what *real* hypocrisy is all about. People have forgotten since the early 90's.
And don't get me wrong. I was happy to see the Repubs get their hat handed to them.... they were bad. But the Dem's are *always* far more corrupt than the Repubs and the public needs to see it.
01-12-2007, 09:42 AM
...Still trying to figure out the rationale behind keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 only on American Samoa... Not much coming up on the 'net yet but I'm looking. I still have questions about the whole convoluted issue of minimum wage in the first place, but that's a secondary issue here. I'm wanting to know how Ms. Pelosi was able to rationalize/explain this discrepancy... Maybe there are some blog essays up. Back later.
01-12-2007, 10:03 AM
The main thing about the minimum wage is that people who are getting the minimum wage tend to be very transitory... i.e., there is NO group of people who stay there and who try to "raise a family" on the minimum wage. That silly idea only appeals to the gullible and uneducated. Here's a fairly good treatment of the minimum wage issue by George Will:
01-12-2007, 10:06 AM
A quick search turns up this site from the American Samoa newspage, with a selection of "buzz" on the Starkist/Pelosi event:
Poking around, I found some materials that show a longtime discord between American Samoa and Starkist, and a whole lot of resentment about American Samoa's special status for minimum wage:
American Samoa has been in its own special wage category for some time…
From 2003 (looks like things haven't changed much from Republican to Democrat administration…)
From 2005 -- a repeat!
Gonna do some reading and digesting.
Okay, this article seems to have the most info for the time being:
01-12-2007, 10:09 AM
Also, the U.S. Dept. of Labor publishes yearly synopses on the "characteristics of minimum wage earners" for that year. I found 2005 (2006 isn't out yet, probably). You can compare it to past years' reports and spot any trends.
01-12-2007, 10:18 AM
I know you'd like to find a reason why Pelosi quietly exempted someone, and sure there are numerous reasons for exempting many places and things, Cady, but either we apply laws equally or we don't. The Dems always have exceptions for their pals. "It may have been perjury, but perjury doesn't count if it was for sex between Dems". ;)
01-12-2007, 10:22 AM
Huh? I'm just wanting to know. You make an assumption that I automatically support any Democrat? I'm not liberal, and I'm in no way supportive of corruption regardless of who is wielding it. If what Pelosi did is representative of corruption, I would want her skewered for it.
I'm picking up whatever's on the 'net so we can plumb it and see if there is any useful data to make any kind of determination. The American Samoa News seemed like a good place to start because they're the ones in the thick of it.
I ain't analyzing the news, only posting it.
01-12-2007, 11:36 AM
Now, now... I didn't call you a Dem, Cady. Nor did I call you a Republican. I'm a switch-voter myself. The guy I wanted to run for pres in 08 was Evan Bayh, but he pulled out. Too bad.
01-12-2007, 12:33 PM
Oops.... looks like Pelosi is reacting to the heat of this getting into the media. She's just made an announcement that Samoa will be included in the minimum wage hike. All that hurrah over something that was really only meant to "energize" the Dem base... and now she's probably going to put a lot of Samoans out of work because of the staggering costs to Starkist. A perfect example of what George Will was talking about.
01-12-2007, 01:09 PM
Ah...so in other words...she can't win.
01-12-2007, 03:49 PM
Ah...so in other words...she can't win.
RonI dunno... the more I listen to the follow-up, the more I think the Repubs were crying "Wolf!". All the facts aren't out, but I don't care for the Culture of Gotcha's from either side.
It sounds to me like Samoa was already exempted from min-wage hikes since Clinton's administration, so it's arguable that while it may have been some quiet Democrat thing, it was knowingly and openly continued by the Bush admin's Department of Labor. Probably this is a mountain out of a molehill. Samoa is not significant in any way that I know of.
Still, the full story may not be out yet so maybe it's better to wait a bit.
01-12-2007, 04:25 PM
The thing I like most about Republicans and Democrats bickering about how bad the other side is. . . they're BOTH right.
Before the last few years, the Democrats scared me worse than the Republicans. Now, I see that they're equally destructive.
Both parties are totally corrupted. The sooner that sinks in with us, the sooner we can move on to relevant political debate.
As for the minimum wage, it's one of the most cruel laws that exists. It's unconstitutional, and even if it weren't there are ways to solve the problems minimum wage supposedly addresses without causing more problems.
01-12-2007, 05:23 PM
As for the minimum wage, it's one of the most cruel laws that exists. It's unconstitutional, and even if it weren't .....You just lost credibility with me, Michael. "It's unconstitutional.." is one of those slams like Neil Mick's "The US broke international law" and similar tripe that won't even pass cursory examination. It's Bugabear Talk.
Here's a letter that seems to present most of the actual facts that I found on Powerline from a reader trying to intelligently discuss the issues, rather than make a political statement:
American Samoa already had one of the last remaining exceptions to the federal minimum wage in place. The minimum wage there is determined by a panel of industry leaders, and is about $3.30 an hour for most people who work in a tuna cannery. The panel has to match increases in rates from the mainland, but does not match the federal minimum wage. Starkist never had to pay workers there $5.15 an hour [as I mistakenly said in my original post].
Starkist has one of the two canneries on the island, and the Department of Labor says under 5,000 are employed between the two canneries, or about 36% of the island's workforce. About 60% of the workforce is employed in a tuna related field, like harbor workers or on ships based out of the area. Most of the rest are government employees, go figure. So it is certainly not 75% of the workforce working for Del Monte, like some papers report.
At any rate, the industry there is already falling apart to competition from Asia and problems with opening tariffs, and even at three bucks an hour is one of the highest paying jobs in the region. Needless to say, a jump up to the proposed minimum wage would be the last nail in the coffin of the tuna industry there.
I think the exception is not due to any patronage by Del Monte to Pelosi, but rather continuing a policy already in place that American Samoa does not need to match the minimum wage, since the wages there are already high for the region, and there is no way the industry there could survive a hike. I got all this from the Department of Labor website.
Pelosi and the Dem's are trying to pass an increase in the minimum wage law because it polls well, not because it makes much difference to most people who are affected. It's sort of like "Universal Health Coverage"... sounds good if you have no idea of the complex factors involved; dumb if you understand more about the forces and factors involved.
The unfortunate thing is that Delmonte cannot compete for Tuna sales if the stateside minimum wage is imposed on Samoa... they'll simply go out of business and all those Samoans will be out of jobs.
This same thing happens when someone simplistically tries to impose US working conditions on a "sweatshop" in Indonesia.... you can't compete with someone else's "sweatshop" so you lose the sales and therefore you can't make any money. Result: you "improved conditions", but the people you improved the conditions for are out of a job anyway. They would have preferred to have food on the table, I think.
God save us from the noble do-gooders who have no idea about complex issues. These people always have "simple" answers... which is were we get the notion of "radical" (from the Greek "radix", like radish, or "root"). Simple answers for complex problems are the sign of the bleeding hearts among us. ;)
01-12-2007, 07:11 PM
I don't follow US politics in great detail, but I thought that messing around with national level policy to suit the voters in your backyard was pretty much par for the course? Witness stuff like the failure to cancel the V22 Osprey despite the budget hike from $2.5bn to $30bn, a decision that may possibly have been linked to the number of senators whose constiuencies had a lot of employment resting on the project. I've never seen any particular evidence that this sort of stuff is a feature of one or the other party, it just seems to be a feature of a system where politicians and certain business interests are on overly friendly terms, and the public don't know or care enough to do anything about it. The same thing happens over here, although there seem to be slightly more checks and balances to stop it getting out of hand...
01-12-2007, 07:29 PM
Oh, and I'd agree that as a left liberal it's as important if not more so for me to to notice corruption in the parties I support (I'm left liberal), and to recognize these sorts of things as a problems that need to be fixed by changing the system (if that's what they are) rather than something that can be got rid of by voting in a nice happy left liberal party who, because they happen to agree with my politics, are therefore presumed incorruptible.
edit: make that, "parties who I should support" or "parties whose social and economic viewpoint is roughly similar to mine." Obviously if they're all taking backhanders and so on, I'm not that supportive.
01-12-2007, 07:31 PM
I don't follow US politics in great detail, but I thought that messing around with national level policy to suit the voters in your backyard was pretty much par for the course? Witness stuff like the failure to cancel the V22 Osprey despite the budget hike from $2.5bn to $30bn, a decision that may possibly have been linked to the number of senators whose constiuencies had a lot of employment resting on the project. I've never seen any particular evidence that this sort of stuff is a feature of one or the other party, it just seems to be a feature of a system where politicians and certain business interests are on overly friendly terms, and the public don't know or care enough to do anything about it. The same thing happens over here, although there seem to be slightly more checks and balances to stop it getting out of hand...A fair enough assessment, I think. After that Republican moron in Alaska and his stupid bridge, no one can argue that "pork" isn't everywhere. The only thing about this "minimum wage hike" I don't like is that it's not just a "pork" show with a building or bridge, etc., it's a move that will put a fair number of people out of work (like those Delmonte employees in American Samoa) just to make a show that "sounds good in the polls". I'm sure a lot of Dems will just shrug of those natives on the islands, but I hate to see someone lose their job. Then again, there are so many Repubs that I can't stand either that all I can do is stand here and quiver. ;)
01-12-2007, 10:19 PM
You just lost credibility with me, Michael. "It's unconstitutional.." is one of those slams like Neil Mick's "The US broke international law" and similar tripe that won't even pass cursory examination. It's Bugabear Talk.
1. I'm not concerned about my credibility with you.
2. Please, don't compare me to a socialist.
3. It's a shame you feel that way. I'm sure as a conservative you at least believe in the mythology of freedom. Take the next step.
"International law" has nothing to do with the US Constitution. I wasn't thoughtlessly tossing that comment out there. Take a look at the 14th Amendment. I believe minimum wage is a violation of the equal protection clause. The inexperienced, poor, or low-skilled are "legally" denied opportunities that are afforded to others.
Listen, I recognize that the supreme court has ruled that minimum wage is Constitutional. I just happen to disagree. You should dust off your Constitution and re-read it. I'd like to think that if more people got in touch with that document government wouldn't be able to abuse us as easily.
01-13-2007, 09:39 AM
2. Please, don't compare me to a socialist. I was comparing the use of emotionally-indexed but not-true statements to make a point. You do it.... Neil specializes in it. He's never made a balanced discussion in his life.
Listen, I recognize that the supreme court has ruled that minimum wage is Constitutional. I just happen to disagree. Then say you disagree. That's a respectable stance. When, however, you wrongly assert that it's unconstitutional and you know such a ruling has never been made, you're making it up. I.e., you're telling an obvious lie which destroys your credibility in the rest of what you've written. That's Neil's special reserve. I was simply pointing it out in an attempt to keep the conversation reasonable and somewhat balanced. ;)
01-13-2007, 10:15 AM
The guy I wanted to run for pres in 08 was Evan Bayh, but he pulled out. Too bad.
He's still pretty young. Plenty of opportunity to run again.
01-14-2007, 04:11 AM
When, however, you wrongly assert that it's unconstitutional and you know such a ruling has never been made,
Minimum wage laws were ruled unconstitutional by the supreme court at least twice before they reversed the decision (thank FDR).
you're making it up. I.e., you're telling an obvious lie which destroys your credibility in the rest of what you've written.
I was stating my opinion, not the most recent ruling by the supreme court! How can my opinion be a lie?
I don't view the supreme court as infallible. A very large percentage of what the federal government currently does is unconstitutional (my belief), but we don't often see acts of congress ruled unconstitutional. So much for checks and balances. Come to think of it, the court ruled against minimum wage at the state level, but had to change their ruling to pave the way for minimum wage at the national level in 1938.
01-14-2007, 09:44 PM
I know you'd like to find a reason why Pelosi quietly exempted someone, and sure there are numerous reasons for exempting many places and things, Cady, but either we apply laws equally or we don't. The Dems always have exceptions for their pals.
It sounds very bad, indeed, but I don't recall any complaints from you on this situation, supported by Tom DeLay, the righteous right-winger conservative:
""A naked Mongolian woman in a blond wig grinds her body around a silver pole. As music pounds through the small room, disco lights reveal an overweight, graying man in a Hawaiian shirt sitting in the corner, rubbing the thighs of another of the club’s dancers.
Outside this Saipan nightclub, scantily-clad Chinese girls, their hair dyed red or blond, sit on cheap white plastic chairs. “You want massage?” they call out to the Asian businessmen and U.S. Navy sailors who frequent the club.
“I can get you lots of Chinese girls,” says a man with one long fingernail, who calls himself Free. “You can take a girl back to her room and do whatever you want to her. All night.”
One would imagine that Tom DeLay, a right-wing Christian, would be appalled by the teeming red-light district of Saipan, the main island in the Micronesian chain of the Northern Marianas. Or Jack Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew. Yet these two men have been among the strongest supporters of an exploitative labor and immigration system on Saipan that has helped fuel not just this sex tourism, but work arrangements that are tantamount to indentured servitude.
When asked about reports of forced prostitution and labor abuses, DeLay told the Galveston County Daily News in May 2005: “Sure, when you get this number of people, there are stories of sexual exploitation. But in interviewing these employees one-on-one, there was no evidence of any of that going on. No evidence of sweatshops as portrayed by the national media. It’s a beautiful island with beautiful people who are happy about what’s happening.”
No evidence? DeLay’s support persisted even when a Department of Interior report documented that workers in Saipan’s garment factories were coerced into having unwanted abortions. The damage continues to this day, even though both men have been stripped of their power.
The Northern Mariana Islands are a U.S. territory, and thus subject to most U.S. laws. But the 30,000 “guest workers” there—predominately women from China, the Philippines, and Thailand who sew clothing for top-name American brands, which are then allowed to label them “Made in Saipan (USA),” “Made in Northern Mariana Islands (USA)," or simply “Made in USA”—are not covered by U.S. minimum-wage and immigration laws.
At its peak, the factories in the Northern Marianas annually exported garments worth $2 billion retail to the U.S. Considering that the success of the industry was tied closely to its low wages and exploitative guest worker program—and the fact that it was exempt from tariffs or quotas on exports to the U.S. mainland—it’s not surprising that both the Marianas’ government and the garment manufacturers have fought long and hard to maintain the deal.
So they hired Jack Abramoff, the formerly high-flying Republican lobbyist. First at the Washington, D.C., law offices of Preston, Gates, Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds and later at Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff and his team brought in nearly $11 million in fees from the Northern Marianas government and Saipan garment manufacturers to block Congressional efforts to raise the minimum wage and eliminate the islands’ exemptions from U.S. immigration laws. His efforts focused on the House Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. territories. And he also cultivated powerful allies in the House leadership—notably Tom DeLay, who, as majority whip at the time, could keep a bill off the House floor even if the Resources Committee voted in its favor.
One of Abramoff’s favorite tactics for influencing Congress was to arrange Saipan junkets for members of Congress and their staffers. As many as 100 people connected to the U.S. Congress—members themselves or their staffers—traveled to the islands. Among the islands’ visitors were DeLay, his wife and daughter and six of his aides. DeLay would later tell The Washington Post,: “[The islands are] a perfect petri dish of capitalism.”""
01-14-2007, 09:57 PM
Did you even read my post on the subject, David? Like every Samoan that has a job with Starkist on American Samoa, I hope they don't raise the minimum wage. I.e., I'm *for* an exemption more than I'm for raising the minimum wage and having them lose the jobs because they can't compete. Abramoff was actually on the right side on this one, as was DeLay. Pelosi was on the right side by exempting them. The Republicans technically have a "gotcha" that is legitimate on the face of it, but it's wrong in reality.
Notice the give and take in my argument, David, as opposed to foaming-mouthed fanaticism.
01-14-2007, 10:06 PM
Did you even read my post on the subject, David?
Your later posts got more sensible, after the one I replied to. Up to that point, your entire focus seemed to be to point up Pelosi's hypocrisy in exempting her constituent from a law she passed on everyone else. No?
You softened up after you got a little more background on it and now you're talking like it's a great idea:
Like every Samoan that has a job with Starkist on American Samoa, I hope they don't raise the minimum wage. I.e., I'm *for* an exemption more than I'm for raising the minimum wage and having them lose the jobs because they can't compete.
Sure, they can live on a lot less in Samoa than they can in any American city. Probably $3.30/hr is good money there.
Abramoff was actually on the right side on this one, as was DeLay. Pelosi was on the right side by exempting them. The Republicans technically have a "gotcha" that is legitimate on the face of it, but it's wrong in reality.
You are talking about Samoa, still, and not the situation on Saipan, aren't you? You're not attempting to justify what they're doing in Saipan, are you? You want a story of hypocrisy, it's hard to beat a good, Christian Republican like DeLay.
Notice the give and take in my argument, David, as opposed to foaming-mouthed fanaticism.
Uh, you got off to a pretty foamy start on this one, Mike. Smug, at least. Until you found out you were wrong. But do you think it's "foaming-mouthed" to post an analysis of what Bush's top supporters have done in the guise of righteous capitalism?
01-14-2007, 10:14 PM
Your later posts got more sensible, after the one I replied to. Up to that point, your entire focus seemed to be to point up Pelosi's hypocrisy in exempting her constituent from a law she passed on everyone else. No?Listen, David... the Dem majority whip has admitted they screwed up on that one. You don't need to fight a fight that's already over. It's what they get for ramming it through with no debate. If there had been floor debate, the exemption for American Samoa would have been explained and *maybe* would have been agreed to by everyone, but I'm not a psychic to know that for sure.
The hypocrisy was there.... the *real* problem was that no minimum wage law was needed. Ever. It was just a feel-good thing for the uneducated in the Leftist base. Now it has bitten a bunch of Samoans in the butt. Don't blame me. Try blaming Madame Pelosi for a change instead of acting like a partisan shill.
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