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Gubernatorial Candidates Inclined to Favor Social Workers’ Collegiality

By on September 17, 2016

The gubernatorial candidates from the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP for its Spanish initials), María de Lourdes Santiago, and the Working People’s Party (PPT by its Spanish acronym), Rafael Bernabe, as well as independent candidate Manuel Cidre, favored Saturday the mandatory collegiality of social workers due to the measure’s quality service guarantee and protection to professionals.

On the other hand, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) president and gubernatorial candidate David Bernier, and independent candidate Alexandra Lúgaro were more ambiguous with their replies, implying they need a larger analysis regarding the collegiality’s benefits in that profession.

Independent candidate Manuel Cidre (CPTSPR / Twitter)

Independent candidate Manuel Cidre (CPTSPR / Twitter)

New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate Ricardo Rosselló did not offer commentary because he cancelled his participation in the forum held by the University of the Sacred Heart. It was informed that Rosselló cancelled his programmed schedules on Saturday and Sunday after his spouse, Beatriz Areizaga, lost her pregnancy.

“Health professionals have to be in collegialities,” expressed Santiago, who on the other hand, does not favor the collegiality for actors because she considers the latter is an “artistic expression” that requires more freedom.

Meanwhile, Cidre supported an “orderly” collegiality, and Bernabe offered his support for professional colleges as well as labor unions, and maintained the importance of creating titles such as “coordinator,” which are social workers in practice to hire people without the social worker degree, or pay them less than professionals.

“[The issue of the mandatory collegiality] is your decision. I am a  collegiate  dentist and our mandatory colligation has been good, it has helped a lot. It has placed controls to the profession. […] If it’s working very well, there is no reason [to eliminate it],” Bernier commented.

For her part, Lúgaro expressed she would have to analyze the measure deeper, but indicated that, on many occasions, it’s better to allow the professional to decide whether he wants to form part of the collegiality, since forcing them doesn’t necessarily fulfill the interest to protect services.

Although Rosselló excused himself, a panel of the College of Professional Social Workers (CPTSPR by its Spanish initials) criticized the NPP for opposing the collegiality requisite in the project amended by the College of Social Workers Act, shelved by the Senate.

“We understand that the people who oppose mandatory collegiality want to disarticulate professional guilds, because by disarticulating the force of the professional class, then they can attack this class without it being able to defend itself,” maintained CPTSPR President Larry Alicea.

Alicea also expressed disapproval of the Fiscal Oversight Board created by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), stating that the entity “comes to lacerate essential public services in the country,” and it will affect the working conditions of public servers, including more than 30,000 social workers.

Only Bernabe and Santiago have opposed working with the board, which will revise the island’s decisions, laws, and budgets for at least five years. In the meantime, Bernier said in the forum that if the fiscal board requests employee layoffs or pension reductions, he would oppose those measures; otherwise, he plans to work hand in hand with the group.

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