Prepa Union Announces 24-Hour Strike for June 30
SAN JUAN – The president of the Irrigation & Electrical Workers Union (Utier by its Spanish acronym), Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, announced that a 24-hour strike would be held at the end of the month.
Figueroa spoke with Caribbean Business and explained that the strike follows Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) decisions that, in the union’s opinion, affect workers and their families.
“The Authority [Prepa] and [Prepa Chief Restructuring Officer Lisa Donahue’s] group has, in addition to raising the people of Puerto Rico’s electric bills to benefit bondholders, now seeks to meddle with the health plan our families use and continue to…create a crisis in our retirement system. Amid these two scenarios, Utier has decided to decree a 24-hour strike June 30, when we will be congregating at 10 a.m. outside the offices of the Electric Power Authority and will march toward the Capitol and La Fortaleza to deliver a clear and precise message to those governing that we can no longer continue accepting that, to pay bondholders, the health of our children and our retirement system be jeopardized.”
Figueroa Jaramillo explained that Prepa’s decisions have not been consulted with the union and said none has benefited Puerto Rico in any way. He added that the Revitalization Act allows bondholders to be paid “before everyone, meanwhile allowing workers’ benefits and acquired rights to be adjusted, risking the health of families.” He further indicated that the corresponding contributions to the retirement system are not being made, “which could lead to a crisis.”
Regarding the possibility that a financial oversight board be established for Puerto Rico, the union leader said: “The fiscal control board has…already been imposed on us. What Lisa Donahue is doing with the Revitalization Act establishes a new governing board with seven members chosen from a talent bank by an external company, which is virtually the same as proposed for the fiscal control board, which is seven members to be chosen by Congress and White House.
“Therefore, what we are experiencing, increases in energy costs, reduced services to the people of Puerto Rico, inaccessibility of services for the people of Puerto Rico, diminished rights, which took us decades to attain, and our retirement system, is practically what the fiscal control board will mean for all Puerto Rican workers, whether public or private.”
Figueroa Jaramillo stressed that the union has approached the management of the public corporation to no avail.
“Until Prepa desists from threatening the health of our children, our wives and husbands we will not sop and will fight to not be driven into misery, which is where they intend to take us.”