Hanging with Carmen

If you can find Carmen Sandiego, you can find me. In fact… I will TELL you and show you where I will be for the next couple days (read: 19).

I work for UT (Go Vols), well, I work for a Center within the Business Department of UT. Our center is funded primarily soft money from the Department of Labor to do a bunch of different stuff for them. We do some Wage and Hour stuff, Davis-Bacon Stuff, OSHA stuff, OFCCP stuff, blah blah blah stuff… One of main projects that the Construction Industry Research and Policy Center (CIRPC) does is the analysis of survey data from the Territory of American Samoa. In fact, the scope of our project increased in 2004 when DOL contracted us not only to analyze the data but go fetch the data as well. That’s where I came in to the picture. I was hired because the dude that had written the report in the past was leaving and they needed another person to go on the trip. So I went. I saw, I collected data, I took pictures, I wrote a report. The report is even online. Just google “Economic Report: The minimum wage in American Samoa 2005” and you should find me.

So what’s up with American Samoa anyway… two things… Min. Wage and Tuna.

Simplistically, American Samoa is a territory of the US, but given it’s heritage and location, the US government said, you can do what ever you want but we’ll oversee it. So American Samoan are American Nationals and enjoy many of the freedoms that every American has. But the wage structure for non-exempt workers is F’Uped. Okay, it’s not really that bad, just complicated. As a worker in Samoa, you could have 17 different wage rates depending on your industry, not the normal 2 for the Mainland. So the goal of this survey is to bring the Island up to the Mainland without tanking the Economy. Guam and Puerto Rico were like Samoa, but now share the same high dollar $5.15 /hr that the mainland mandates.

Currently, you can earn as little as (minimally) $2.77/hr to $4.09/hr. Not saying that people don’t earn more, they do… this is the minimum that people are required BY LAW to pay their workers. Seeing that the wage rates in say Tonga are close to 90 cents/hr… $2.77 isn’t that bad. Until I tell you that American Samoa enjoy Hawaii like prices. Can of Diet Coke ($0.60), 6 pack of Diet Coke $3.00… don’t remember what the bottles went for, but since they are manufactured in Fiji, I don’t think they have a code.

Tuna… There are two processing plants on American Samoa, mainly because the port of the island is a sunk Volcano and very deep… ships can get in and out. But Starkist and Chicken of the Sea (did not see Jessica Simpson any where) have their main processing plants there… Oooo I need to clarify further. Their main plants for Canned Tuna are located there. You know that fancy packet tuna in the foil pouch… Most of those are made in South America and the workers make less than a dollar an hour…

So where is American Samoa… it’s the only US Territory south of the Equator… yes, I can see the water drain “The other way”, and it’s this side of the dateline, so it’s still Wednesday there, it’s just 6 hours behind Eastern Time…

Here is on a map: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=499400

and I am offering this picture for you to savor the Flavor of the Island. Pretty green lush landscape, cool architecture, and some graffiti…

green and scenic
Now, I will have internet… I won’t be lost to the blogging world for 19 days. Oh, and I do plan on running while I am there too…

About planet3rry

I'm a husband, father and runner in the Knoxville area. I love the way that running makes me feel and how it has changed my thinking. I am always looking for the new PR whether in the 5k or the marathon