Senator James V. Espaldon
Hagatna, Guam - Senator James V. Espaldon, Minority Leader of the 34th Guam Legislature, has introduced legislation that calls for a more gradual and less abrupt increase to the island’s minimum wage.
Bill No. 135-34 (LS) seeks to increase the minimum wage to $8.75 per hour effective January 1, 2018. This marks an increase of 50 cents from the current Guam minimum wage of $8.25 per hour.
The legislation also calls for an increase of the minimum wage to $9.20 per hour effective January 1, 2019.
In developing the new minimum wage legislation, Espaldon said there is a need to strike a balance between the needs and requirements of all sectors of the island’s community.
“On the one hand, we need to increase the minimum wage to benefit our workers and help them cope with the current cost of living on island. On the other hand, we must not make the increase so high and so fast that employers and businesses will suffer and be forced to lay off people. There is a very delicate balance that is needed,” Espaldon said.
Aside from a new minimum wage, the bill also establishes a training wage of $8.25 per hour effective on Jan. 1, 2018 for a period not to exceed 90 calendar days. After the successful completion of the training, each person receiving a training wage shall be paid the applicable wages listed in Section 3105, Chapter 3, Title 22 of the Guam Code Annotated.
In addition, the bill also has a provision for a youth minimum wage. Under this provision, every employer may pay each person under 20 years of age a minimum wage of $8.25 per hour effective Jan. 1, 2018 for the initial 90 calendar days of employment. Upon the completion of the initial 90 days of employment, or after having attained 20 years of age, each person shall be paid the applicable wages listed in Section 3105, Chapter 3, Title 22 of the Guam Code Annotated.
In drafting the bill, Espaldon said he took into consideration the results of the minimum wage study conducted by the Department of Labor as well as input from various sectors and stakeholders of the island’s economy.
“I would like to assure everyone that if this bill becomes law and economic conditions change once more, we will again initiate legislation to adjust the minimum wage to adapt to new conditions,” said Espaldon.
“We always need to look at the bigger picture and ensure that no one sector of the community is unduly advantaged or disadvantaged. Everybody must benefit from a win-win situation,” the senator added.