Guam Sen. Joe S. San Agustin and nine co-sponsors introduced Bill 136-35 (COR), "Relative to responsibly raising the minimum wage," which would raise Guam's hourly minimum wage in two 50-cent increments — from $8.25 to $8.75 by March 1, 2020, and ultimately to $9.25 by March 1, 2021.
The proposed legislation follows lengthy efforts by the senator to seek input on the measure from community stakeholders.
In a press release San Agustin said, “Our business community received federal and local tax breaks, and it’s time to pay it forward. Those earning minimum wage are not just entry-level workers. They include our veterans, persons with disabilities and manåmko’. They also include a disproportionate number of women, single mothers and minorities. In the call for comments, I got visits, calls and emails from many making $8.25 or less who struggle to make ends meet. The cost of living continues to rise, but their wages have not kept pace with inflation. The unfortunate reality is that many of our families live in poverty. A dollar raise over two years is a small step, but it may make a big difference in the lives of so many.”
San Agustin added, “I also heard from and met with many of our small business owners who are understandably concerned about the possible impact on them. With input from those meetings, I have revised the bill so the minimum wage will now reach $9.25 in two 50-cent increments. This allows our business community a reasonable amount of time for implementation. I believe it’s achievable and it's the right thing to do."
San Agustin recently met with representatives of the Guam Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM. SHRM conducted a poll of its membership and found a majority agreed the minimum wage should be increased and the increase should be made in increments, just as the legislation proposes. This would allow business owners time to make necessary adjustments so employee benefits may not be affected. SHRM’s human resource professionals are also members of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association and many other organizations.
Bill 136-35 (COR) is co-sponsored by Senators Régine Biscoe Lee, Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, Clynton E. Ridgell, Kelly Marsh (Taitano), Ph.D., Telena Cruz Nelson, Tina Rose Muña Barnes, Sabina Flores Perez, Therese M. Terlaje and Amanda L. Shelton.
San Agustin said, “I know there are differing opinions on both sides, so I encourage everyone to come to the public hearing and provide testimony so we can come to a compromise that works. When people have more money in their paychecks each month, their increased purchasing power stimulates our local economy. When our people prosper, our local businesses grow and our island flourishes.”