Chamber of Commerce stresses stance on minimum wage increase - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Chamber of Commerce stresses stance on minimum wage increase

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Just as lawmakers prepare to head into session Wednesday morning, the Guam Chamber of Commerce is reiterating its concern over the minimum wage measure that it fears may be placed on session agenda.

It was back in April when the Chamber was one of several organizations who stated its opposition to Vice Speaker BJ Cruz's Bill 316. The measure proposed to raise the minimum wage by $0.95 over the next three years capped off at $10.10. Today, in light of Speaker Judi Won Pat's call for session on Wednesday morning, the chamber decided to hold a press conference reiterating its stance.

"Even if there is no intent to bring up the minimum wage, we just wanted to make sure that we couldn't take the risk of the damage this could do to a lot of our members," said Lou Leon Guerrero. She spoke in favor of Bill 316 during the public hearing both on behalf of the Bank of Guam and the Guam Women's Chamber of commerce. However today, one of its members appeared to have a different opinion. "I want to say that the bill in listening to most of my clients, is a horrible bill," added Lorraine Okada.

Okada serves as a board of director on the Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce and is also a member of the Guam Chamber. She says her comments were not in line with the organizations but as the owner of Okada Managing Consulting Services that handles wages and compensation issues. "If the purpose and the intent of the bill is to get people out of poverty putting money and giving them money does not take people out of poverty we all know that you get out poverty through your training, education, skills, knowledge and experience," she said.

Okada was actually coordinated the Guam Women's Chamber's forum on wage and compensation back in April. "The whole purpose of that forum was to generate discussion and hopefully force the government to provide us, business people with good data, good information so that reasonable decisions can be made when it comes to compensation for employees," she said.

She was however unaware and surprised that Cruz would announce his intent to introduce legislation to increase the minimum wage. As to why she didn't voice her concerns during the public hearing, Okada says she was off-island for medical reasons. She says the Guam Women's Chamber also took a vote among its directors but she was not present for that either.

Meanwhile, other businesses today spoke out against the measure including Melanie Mendiola representing Farm to Table Guam - a non-profit organization, saying, "And I think what a lot of people don't realize is that bills like this have big impact and negative impacts on nonprofits such as mine as well as the small businesses we serve."

And 3D Rentals owner Hank Dacanay added, "I would be forced to struggle to survive but only time will tell if my business can survive."

Peter Sgro meanwhile says he personally believes the motive in moving forward with Bill 316 is not political but rather, without naming names, says someone may be benefitting from it. Vice Speaker Cruz did not answer our calls today. However Speaker Judi Won pat says Bill 316 will not be on tomorrow's agenda. "And when it does get on the floor, is that we will put ample announcement for everybody because it's a bill that everyone is interested in it those who are for it and those who are against so either way we will make the announcement," she said.

KUAM tried reaching Leon Guerrero for comment however she has yet to reply. 
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