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ASG plans Labor Day celebration with fanfare

While Labor Day has been commemorated globally since the 1800s, the American Samoa Government, for the first time, will be celebrating this holiday next month in honor of its workforce.


For the territory, Labor Day has been, in past years, merely recognized as a federal holiday celebrated annually during the first Monday in September. This year, the holiday will fall on Monday, September 2. Labor Day has also usually signified a 3-day weekend for local residents, which has meant for many, heading to Samoa for the weekend, starting Friday. Whether this will affect this local travel tradition will remain to be seen.


“This matter is a historical event since American Samoa elected her own governor. Even before then, we never had such an event highlighting the services of those employed by the American Samoa Government,” said Human Resources Director Le’i Sonny Thompson, who has been tasked by Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga to oversee the implementation of festivities and celebration for ASG’s workforce on Labor Day.


This was among the issues discussed during the most recent cabinet meeting where Governor Lolo told directors and agency heads that the government must recognize its employees — the people who move the government forward — during this holiday.


Lolo told his directors that the event will be “bigger than Flag Day”. Le'i told his fellow cabinet members during the meeting that funding to carry out the function will come from each department and agency. Le’i then produced a copy of the program that his department has been  working on since they were assigned the task.


The festivities for Labor Day are still being finalized. However, a tentative schedule is as follows:


August 30 — DHR will host a Pre-Labor Day dinner for all cabinet members, and individuals from the private sector. The keynote speaker for that event will be Senate President Gaoteote Palaie Tofau.


Sept. 02 — On Labor Day, at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, there will be a parade led by the Fatu-o-Aiga band at 7:30a.m., followed by an invocation by Rev. Sauni Tuito’elau of the Nu’uuli Assembly of God (AOG) Church.


The keynote speaker for the day is Lealaialoa Chief Justice Michael Kruse, who the Governor said is one of the longest serving members of the Judiciary, having worked in this branch of government since the 1980s when he was appointed by the Department of Interior.


Games between ASG departments and entities are scheduled afterward, but no details are currently available.


Lei’ noted, “We collectively should thank Governor Lolo for his foresight and commitment to making sure that all government employees are recognized for their commitment, dedication, and professionalism which carried this government all these years.”


He continued, “This is long overdue and like any organization or nation globally, success depends on the citizens, especially those who carry the torch day in and day out. One day a year is hardly enough to recognize their service, but at least we can capitalize it for all to witness."


The DHR director told Samoa News there are more than 40 people with 41 or more years of service within the government and about five or six with over 50 years of service — “Quite an accomplishment.”


He added the essence of the idea is to recognize all government and private sector employees and give special recognition to the five or six ASG workers with over 50 years of service. Le’i further noted the government, by law, is now recognizing those with 20, 30, and 40 years of service with a bonus.


Le’i stated, “it is appropriate that the government pay tribute on Labor Day to the creators of so much of the government's strength, freedom, and leadership — the workers.”


Currently, the American Samoa Government employs a total of 6,533 people.