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Slideshows: StarKist CEO speaks on behalf of biz

StarKist Inc., president and chief executive officer Sam Lee says the United States has a national interest in American Samoa and praised the territory’s top leaders for their continued fight for territory’s interests in the federal government.


Lee spoke on behalf of the business community during Thursday’s 2014 Flag Day ceremony dedicated to the private sector, under the theme “Government and Business in Partnership”.


In his speech, Lee thanked the government for paying special tribute to the business sector and “we appreciate your recognition for us building the island economy, together with the people and the government.”


He says Flag Day is also a day to take time out to reflect and celebrate the fact that on Apr. 17, 1900 the U.S. Flag was first raised on Tutuila. He pointed out that the Flag Day celebration is “full of beauty, song and dance, [and] is certainly a fitting tribute for such a momentous occasion.


“Before we celebrate ourselves, I want to honor the brothers and sisters of American Samoa who are members of the United States military, both past and present,” he declared. “We are thankful and grateful for your service.”


Speaking proudly of the U.S. based company, he said, “StarKist is America’s favorite tuna. We are proud of our roots here in American Samoa.”


StarKist Samoa, as the largest employer in the territory, Lee honored his employees as well as the government, saying that “through your efforts, we are building America’s largest tuna company,” adding that the company has been here for over 50 years “through good times and tough times.”


Lee pointed out that StarKist’s success would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of its workforce. “When we needed extra production for our customers from time to time, our employees did not hesitate to come in on Saturdays to have extra production,” he said and thanked them.


“As we celebrate the significance of a Flag Day, we are reminded that the United States has a national interest in American Samoa,” the president and CEO of StarKist said, but didn’t elaborate further. “We know the right leadership is in place to help us succeed.”


And he thanked Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Congressman Faleomavaega Eni “for their support and leadership”, saying that “their leadership remains steadfast, undeterred as they continue to fight for American Samoa.”


What brought laughter from VIP and guests, is when Lee pointed out that it was a hot day at the stadium and therefore it’s not nice to have a long speech and ended his remarks. He did thank the close to 1,000 StarKist Samoa workers “for your good spirit and willingness to provide our wonderful entertainment.”




The cannery workers were the first group to take center stage for siva and pese. In their ‘pese’ the workers sang that after 50-years of being part of the American Samoa family, StarKist, in 2014 — it is the first time the company has been invited to participate in the siva and pese. (StarKist has however participated in the past through the parade.)


The workers thanked the Lolo Administration for giving them this chance to showcase their talents and perform this year, as the government pays tribute to the business community.


To the government, through Acting Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, the cannery singers urged the government to “push, push for wages” in American Samoa to be considered by a special committee.


They thanked Faleomavaega for his efforts in postponing the past wage increases and urged to continue to do the same, so that StarKist can remain in American Samoa.


(The U.S. Government Accountability Office impact report on minimum wage hikes on American Samoa says that StarKist cannery workers, who participated in a discussion group last year, shared their opposition to further minimum wage increases rather than support for future increases. The GAO report says workers expressed concerns that any increase would result in lost jobs or a complete closure of StarKist Samoa.)


The workers shared their thoughts about the American Samoa Power Authority also.


First they thanked Utu Abe Malae for returning home and taking over the leadership post at ASPA. However, they claim the problem faced is the low water pressure despite the fact that the cannery pays on time their $10,000 a month water bill.


ASPA was also thanked for allowing the cannery to use land in Satala to build its cold storage facility. To end its thanks and message to ASPA, the group sang a Samoan rap song, which brought applause from the crowd.