by unions halts layoffs of 30,000 public workers in Puerto Rico
Braulio Torres, vice
president of Council 95 in Puerto Rico. with DC 37 Interim Organizing Director
Edgar deJesus, voice support for the island's workers at a news conference in
Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño threatening to fire 30,000 public employees
on July 1, unions on the mainland and on the island closed ranks in a show of
solidarity that prevented the massive layoffs. Many of those workers are members
of Council 95 of AFSCME, DC 37s national union.
This is an
incredible victory, said Edgar deJesus, DC 37 Interim Organizing Director.
played a crucial role for the workers and the people of Puerto
Rico by preventing these layoffs.
In addition to the devastating
firings, Gov. Fortuño had planned to suspend the collective bargaining
agreements between the government and the employees union.
the governor introduced Public Law 7, which declared a state of fiscal emergency
island and allowed him to suspend the contracts for two years.
governor of Puerto Rico must honor labor agreements, said City Councilman
John Liu June 17 at a City Hall news conference held to show support for the Puerto
Rican workers. Public Law 7 fosters massive privatization, forcing workers
to bear the burnt of the difficulties. This approach does not support the long-term
prosperity of the people.
The press conference bought together labor
activists from DC 37, the United Auto Workers, 1199 SEIU, and the New York City
Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Vice President Braulio
Torres came from Puerto Rico to represent Council 95, which includes members who
work in the islands schools and correctional facilities.
are very proud to have received the support of so many of our brothers and sisters
here in New York, he said.
The speakers at the press conference also
introduced a resolution in the City Council in support of Puerto Ricos public-sector
DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts expressed her solidarity
with the union members on the island. An injury to the workers of Puerto
Rico is an injury to all workers, she said.