On Friday morning, as the 36th Guam Legislature deliberated the delay in the minimum wage increase as proposed in Bill No. 24-36 (COR), Senator Amanda L. Shelton introduced two floor amendments in support of Guam’s low-wage workers.
The first floor amendment, co-sponsored by Vice Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes, sought to shorten the delay in the second tier increase from one (1) year to six (6) months. The amendment was an attempt for a compromise to support our working people while providing the business community with relief.
The second amendment sought to raise the second tier of the minimum wage increase from fifty (50) cents to a dollar, totaling to $9.75 by March 2022. The amendment was an attempt to bring balance to the assistance given to both businesses and our working people over the last year, where businesses received substantial federal aid such as grants, rent assistance, and the Paycheck Protection Program, while our working families have relied on only a one-time Economic Impact Payment, with another small payment on the way, and unemployment aid for those who lost their jobs.
Guam’s minimum wage workforce represents frontline workers on whom basic necessities of food, sanitation, and care are provided at greater personal risk. According to Dr. Roseann Jones, an economist at the University of Guam, an increase in the minimum wage would represent an increase of pay for our frontline workers and would not be a cause for inflationary concern.
“Madam Speaker, I believe it would be wise to take a step back and remember who we work for here in the legislature. I think that we should all recognize that the need of workers now is greater and that raising low-wage workers’ pay helps our economy,” said Senator Shelton. “If we are making our most essential workers in these low-wage positions wait for another year, the least we can do is offer them a little bit more when the time comes.”
Both floor amendments failed to pass. The 36th Guam Legislature will continue its deliberations on Bill No. 24-36 (COR) this afternoon.