Governor Calvo signed the minimum wage bill into law earlier this afternoon. He recorded a special address on it, and wrote a personal note to workers who will be affected by this increase. We attached the note and a link to the video file of the Governor’s Special Address.
A special address by Eddie Baza Calvo
Hafa adai my fellow Guamanians,
In my state of the island address, I spoke with you about the growing economy. I asked businesses to invest in their employees as times got better. And I wasn’t just talking about raising wages for the lowest earners. I asked employers to invest additional earnings on higher wages, training, and growth for all. It was a challenge to the private sector to focus growth on the employees. It was a challenge because I understand each business has its own story… its own share of problems and achievements. I wanted to inspire employers to raise wages by appealing to their sense of citizenship in a growing Guam.
Vice Speaker BJ Cruz responded to this challenge in a different way. He proposed a three-pronged increase to the minimum wage. The business community pushed back, telling us such a large increase will cause people to lose their jobs and companies to close down. No one wanted that to happen, so the Republican senators negotiated a compromise. The result is this bill before me now. With my signature, everyone making between $7.25 and $8.24 an hour will get a pay increase by January 1. It will set the new minimum wage at $8.25 an hour — a dollar more — 14% more — than it is today.
The compromise is reasonable. Both sides don’t get everything they want, but many many people win because cooler heads prevailed. There was a great discussion about our economy that got outside investors to look at Guam. Greater emphasis was placed on education and skills and career training. Most importantly, the lowest wage earners will be getting a pay raise. That is meaningful to struggling families, especially with the growing price of gas and oil that is making everything so expensive. And that’s why it’s so important for the Legislature to pass Senator Aline Yamashita’s companion bill. It requires an independent impact study that shows us whether things worked and where we should go after.
Before I sign this bill and authorize the minimum wage increase, it’s important that we all recognize something. This is not the solution to the issue of higher wages. This only addresses the lowest wage earners. This does not help the single mother making $13 an hour trying to afford daycare for her kids. This does not help the young father struggling to support his family of four with a $35,000 salary.
I ask senators to display the same passion they gave to the minimum wage, to my education and training initiatives. Those are the solutions for higher wages. The more we invest in early childhood education, higher learning standards, and skills training, the higher wages will be for Guamanians. And the more we continue getting investment into Guam, more tourists, more road projects… the more jobs there will be. We’re starting to see the results of our initiatives and greater college enrollment — private sector wages have been climbing naturally. Let’s keep on this path.
Now, it’s my great honor to sign the first local minimum wage increase since 2007, and the first increase since the 2009 federal change.
Congratulations to Guam’s workers. And, thank you to Vice Speaker BJ Cruz for pushing this issue through.