Non-teaching employee union joins protest against Puerto Rico board
SAN JUAN – The president of the Non-teaching Exempt Employees Association (Heend by its Spanish acronym), José J. Torres Nazario, announced that the union will join others to participate in a demonstration against the fiscal control board Wednesday, Aug. 30 .
The union leader urged citizens, especially working-class families and the university community, to join the demonstration at 12 p.m. in front of the fiscal board’s headquarters in Hato Rey’s World Plaza building.
“This is a critical moment. The board has been obsessed with taking from us two workdays and [lowering our] salary, by eliminating the Christmas bonus and, not content with monumental cuts to the budget, now they demand to suck more blood than they already have from the university,” Torres Rosario declared, adding that citizens should be present to show their indignation against the board in a common front.
“We must let them know that it is enough abuse, that the people have already been trampled on enough and we won’t tolerate a single wound more. Nobody believes the board that its intention is to help this country. Its intention is only to protect the payment to bondholders to pay them a debt for which nobody is certain of its legality,” the Heend president stressed.
Torres Rosario affirmed that “the board already went to court to prove that it will not desist from [ordering] the furlough, and we workers must show them we will not take even one step back. We will not carry the entire load of this debt that we didn’t decide and that we don’t even know if it is real.”
The spokesperson of the Puerto Rico Union Movement, Luis Pedraza Leduc, recently said the demonstration will be a “national mobilization” similar to the National Strike on May 1. A speaking stage on the intersection of Roosevelt and Muñoz Rivera avenues in San Juan will be where the demonstrators will gather.
“This mobilization will have the effect of a national strike, from the perspective that workers will be mobilizing to this activity and there won’t be work,” Pedraza Leduc said.
As with the May Day demonstration, the logistics for each sector will be coordinated separately, but the peak of the event is expected to be at noon.
Far from aligning themselves with Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s refusal to implement the furlough program announced by the fiscal board, Predaza Leduc said the differences between the administration and the board are merely “cosmetic.”
“This supposed difference between the government of Ricardo Rosselló and the fiscal control board…only distinguishes itself by how it tightens [the noose] on workers’ necks,” Pedraza Leduc said.
Among the measures denounced by the union leader are labor reform, the government as a single employer law and Acts 3 and 26, which reduce worker benefits and affect collective bargaining agreements.
Regarding the public debt’s audit, Pedraza Leduc was emphatic that he does not believe the government or the fiscal board should be in charge of the investigation.
“We disagree that the board itself may be assessing the situation. An investigation into the debt and the participation of banks and bondholders has been requested at the court level. Banks are opposed. Obviously they are preventing information from being obtained. However, this is not the audit we endorse. We endorse a much broader, citizen process, with more sectors involved that guarantee access to information and have credibility,” the union leader said.
Among the groups that make up Movimiento Sindical are the Puerto Rico Federation of Workers, Puerto Rican Workers’ Central, the Coordinadora Sindical, the Broad Front in Defense of Public Schools, the General Union of Workers, and the Puerto Rican Workers Union.