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Democratic Rep. Neil Abercrombie wants to legislate high wages for a massive construction project in the federal territory of Guam, restrict the ability of foreigners to get those jobs and hope Hawaii residents, although 3,800 miles away, will flock there for the work.
One official estimate says that would add $10 billion to the project’s cost, doubling its price tag.
Matt Rector, a senator on the island as well as the head of the local affiliate of the AFL-CIO, said workers there welcome what Abercrombie’s trying to do because of the island’s dismal economy.
The cost of living there is high because so many products have to be shipped to such a low-volume destination, yet wages are below the national average and people have difficulty finding decent-paying jobs. The unemployment rate is about 11.4 percent.