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ASG and US Department of Labor Wage/Hour Division sign MOU

joy@samoanews.com

It’s official, the United States Department of Labor’s Wage/Hour Division (WHD) and the American Samoa Government have signed a memorandum of understanding, with the specific and mutual goals of providing clear, accurate, and easy-to-access outreach to private sector employers and their employees, ASG Departments and their employees, and other stakeholders, and of sharing resources and information consistent with applicable law.
 
The MOU was signed by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and USDOL Honolulu, District Director Terrence Trotter who’s based in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
 
The USDOL will be opening an office at the Pago Plaza where they will begin to do outreach for the private sector and part of this MOU is to have ASG and USDOL work together, with the goal to extend the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to all the workers in the territory. 
 
The governor’s legal counsel Steven Watson stated USDOL has jurisdiction over businesses who do over $500,000 annually in the United States and its territories.
 
Trotter noted USDOL is looking forward to working with businesses and ASG to strengthen its partnership through enforcing the FLSA. He further stated that once ASG establishes a Department of Labor, USDOL will be assisting them to enforce labor laws. “We cannot cover employers who make under $500,000 because there is no labor law that may apply in that area.”
 
Governor Lolo stated he’s looking forward to this relationship growing, and it’s a good start for those working in the territory knowing this will provide a better chance of protecting their employment rights.
 
According to the MOU, both parties recognize the value of establishing a collaborative relationship to promote compliance with laws of common concern in American Samoa. Forming this partnership will enable more effective and efficient communication and cooperation on areas of common interest, to share training materials, to provide employers and employees with compliance assistance information, and to directly educate ASG on application of federal laws to its employees.
 
Also to assist, upon request, in the development of an American Samoa Department of Labor whose purpose would be to establish and enforce a minimum wage, overtime premium, child labor employment standard and  record keeping requirements among other baseline labor provisions for its non-governmental workforce.
 
RESPONSIBILITIES
 
WHD is responsible for administering and enforcing a wide range of labor laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, worker protections provided in several temporary visa programs, and the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Service Contract Act.
 
Nothing in this agreement limits the WHD’s enforcement of these and other statutes, while ASG is responsible for administering and enforcing locally entitled wages, overtime premiums and record keeping requirements for its government-wide workforce as well as  adhering to federally applicable labor standards.
 
The MOU further states ASG and WHD may conduct joint investigations periodically in American Samoa, if opportunity provides and coordinate their respective enforcement activities, assist each other with enforcement and make referrals of potential violations of each other’s statutes.
 
According to the MOU this agreement does not authorize the expenditure or reimbursement of any funds and nothing in this agreement obligates the parties to expend appropriations or enter into any contract or other obligation.
 
“The parties do not imply an endorsement or promotion by either party of the policies, programs, or services of the other.” Also this MOU is not intended to diminish or otherwise affect the authority of either agency to implement its respective statutory functions.”
 
“Nothing in this agreement will be interpreted as limiting, superseding, or otherwise affecting the parties’ normal operations.”
 
The MOU notes “the agreement will be executed in full compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974, and any other applicable federal and American Samoa laws.” However the information is not for public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.
 
This agreement will expire three years from the effective date and it may be cancelled by either party by giving thirty (30) days advance written notice prior to the date of cancellation.

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga and USDOL Honolulu, District Director Terrence Trotter during the official signing of the MOU at the governor’s conference room yesterday. [photo: JL]


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