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Labor Leaders Refuse to Join Governor in Plea to Washington

By on April 6, 2016

SAN JUAN—Although various local labor leaders do not endorse the fiscal control board proposed by the U.S. Congress, they have also rejected Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla’s call for different sectors to go to Washington, D.C. in an united front to ask for fiscal and economic help.

Washington DC, United States landmark. National Capitol building with US flag.

For Iram Ramírez, representative of the International Union of Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU by its Spanish acronym) the governor’s proposal is simply a case of “too little too late.”

In recent weeks, the governor met with 18 labor leaders and asked for their help in lobbying Congress concerning four specific points: support for debt restructuring through Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy law; a moratorium on litigation; opposition to the fiscal board to be imposed by Congress; and the creation of economic development tools for the island.

“One of our concerns is that there is not any guarantee for unions and workers,” said Ramírez “It could happen that, afterwards, a labor reform bill could appear and threaten workers.”

José “Lole” Rodríguez, from the Puerto Rico Federation of Workers, acknowledged there is no disagreement with the four points discussed at the meeting, but noted that an extension to Puerto Rico of Chapter 9 benefits is very unlikely. He added that he sees a lack of specificity in the governor’s petition that prevents workers from establishing a common front before Congress.

Moreover, the unions that attended the meeting with the governor have their own lobbyists in Washington to stop the approval of the fiscal control board, both union leaders said.

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