Friday, November 14, 2008

What's your prevailing wage?

There's apparently still no determination of prevailing wages for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (or American Samoa) in the U.S. Department of Labor's Online Wage Library.

That's one very devilish detail with federalization of labor just around the corner.

Where's the data coming from? Could anyone help me here? I heard a rumor that we might start with Guam's wages.

From DOL's Office of Compliance: While there are several federal agencies involved with granting permission for foreign workers to work in the United States, employers generally must first obtain certification through DOL. Certification may be granted in cases where it can be demonstrated that there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers available and willing to perform the work at wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage paid for that occupation in the area of intended employment. (emphasis added)

I was thinking of this (again) because of a Press Release from DOL:

STERLING, Va. — GlobalCynex Inc., a Sterling information technology company, has agreed to pay $1,683,584 to 343 non-immigrant workers after a U.S. Labor Department investigation found the company violated the H-1B visa provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

An investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found that employees hired under the H-1B program were not paid required wages from March 2005 through March 2007. Wage and Hour Division investigators also found that the company charged new H-1B workers training fees ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 that were in violation of the law.

"This case underscores the firm stance the Wage and Hour Division is taking to ensure that employers do not undercut American workers by underpaying temporary foreign workers," said Corlis Sellers, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division's Northeast Region.

The H-1B visa program permits employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in professional occupations such as computer programmers, engineers, physicians and teachers. H-1B workers must be paid at least the same wage rates as are paid to U.S. workers who perform the same types of work or the prevailing wages in the areas of intended employment.

The Wage and Hour Division enforces the H-1B wage provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, in addition to other federal laws pertaining to wage payments. For more information about the H-1B program, visit the department's Web site at


Saipan Writer said...

We've had artificially depressed wages because of our unfair labor system for so long we don't actually have "prevailing" wages here! That's the problem.

Years ago I thought that we should just take the US prevailing wage (pick any small community) and then multiply by the fraction our minimum wage is of the US's. I wanted to see an end to $3.05 for colleged educated accountants and such! But that was a long time ago, no ever listens to me anyway (and I acknowledge there are many good reasons for that!), and it was before blogging ...

KAP said...

I don't pretend to have the answer, but the question has been on my mind for a long time.

Guam? Government salaries? Time's running short.

This seems likely to have a greater effect than the number of bodies brought in or the minimum wage.