Synopsis By: Marx - Proceeding Author: David M. Helfeld, J. Fred Holly, Paul H. Sanders

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 was originally applicable to Puerto Rico but, because minimum wage rates discouraged hiring on the island, the law was changed in 1940 to permit setting of lower wage standards, determined by industry wage committees. The benefits and shortcomings of these tripartite committees are described. The system was substantially changed in 1974, when the industry committee work was limited, according to the author, to workers in “newly covered” categories. Commentator David Helfeld takes issue with this analysis, indicating the industry committee work continues, but on a more limited basis. Helfeld urges a return to separate minimum wage determination for Puerto Rico. Commentator Paul Sanders joins Helfeld in approving mediatory efforts by the tripartite committee to reach unanimous approval on wage determination (even though not fully relying on economic data).