Chamber still concerned over wage increase to small businesses - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Chamber still concerned over wage increase to small businesses

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's been two days since lawmakers passed legislation to raise the minimum wage and while it won't take effect until the beginning of next year if it's signed into law, efforts are already underway to address the impacts to our community.

Guam Chamber of Commerce chairman Peter Sgro hasn't been shy about his feelings about the minimum wage measure and its inevitable outcome. "First of all, our position is obviously 14% is much better than 40%, it would have just been disastrous," he explained.

Substituted Bill 316 passed by a majority of senators would raise the minimum wage by one dollar to $8.25 starting January 1, 2015. He says despite the outcome, the Guam Chamber remains concerned about its small business members. "73% of our members are small businesses so we have already started reaching out to them I sent a message to the membership today," he confirmed.

The Guam Chamber has approximately 400 members consisting of up to 42,000 employees. Sgro says the Guam Chamber has since created the Small Business Advisory Council within its Small Business Committee providing additional resources and talent to those small businesses that may need help preparing for the wage increase. "We wanted to make available to our small business members a resource where we could advise in terms of restructuring the loan, help advise in terms of what may be out there they maybe not be aware of in respect to deferring payments," he said.

Sgro today called the US Small Business Administration to see if the Chamber can set up some sort of collaboration to help with the small businesses who may be impacted. Meanwhile, the Guam Chamber along with GHRA are some of the groups who have called for the need of an independent economic impact study to be conducted before any kind of wage increase takes effect. "It's better to do things ahead of time and have that data and present it and be transparent about it and be honest about it," he said.

Sgro has recommended to lawmakers that instead of trying to invent a new methodology for an EIS is they should follow a 15-year old law that requires village public hearings along with an analysis of the costs to the people of Guam. Senator Aline Yamashita meanwhile introduced Bill 376 today that would require the Department of Labor to issue an RFP to conduct a one-year independent economic impact statement relative to the minimum wage no later than January 1, 2016. The EIS would detail the impact to the small business community along with the wage earner. 
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