SEIU's Rivera and CTW Involved In Raiding Of Teacher's Federation Of Puerto Rico
| AN URGENT CALL TO SUPPORT
THE TEACHERS' FEDERATION OF PUERTO RICO
AS FEBRUARY NATIONAL STRIKE LOOMS
FEBRUARY 7 N.Y.C. PLANNING MEETING
February 2, 2008
Puerto Rico's teachers and workers are fighting for their rights to free quality public education, to union independence, to freely strike, to democratic representation and against privatization. The government of Puerto Rico, in collaboration with the U.S. unions, e.g. the American Federation of Teachers, SIEU, Change To Win and others, is attempting to destroy the rising militant and effective organizing efforts of the FMPR to improve educational and teaching conditions on the island and to undermine opposition to President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" privatization program on the island.
In January '08, the Puerto Rican government acted to decertify the Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico (FMPR), which represents 42,000 teachers. The FMPR called for a strike vote of its Delegates' Assembly in September 2007 that was overwhelmingly ratified by the membership. The colonial government is using the anti-strike and other anti-labor clauses of Law 45 in its attempts to destroy the democratically elected representative of the teachers. Law 45 is similar to the New York State Taylor law. The unconstitutional nature of Law 45 is currently being challenged in the courts by the FMPR.
The FMPR has successfully fought government attempts to squash the voice of teachers and community in decision-making in Puerto Rico's school system. The FMPR effectively seceded in 2006 from American Federation of Teachers which abysmally failed to crusade for better conditions while collecting millions in dues money from Puerto Rican teachers.
The FMPR has a proven track record of defending teachers, students, parents, and community control of the educational process. It has successfully opposed the U.S. federal government's efforts to undermine the rights of Puerto Rican teachers to exercise their judgment in the classroom and in making decisions about instruction according to their needs and within their own context. The FMPR has steadfastly opposed all attempts at privatization fomented by the federal NCLB, inclusive of Charter Schools.
You are invited to come to a planning meeting where we will begin to build support for the FMPR and the upcoming February teachers' strike.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Center for Puerto Rican Studies
Hunter College @ 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, Manhattan
#6 Lexington Avenue Local to 68 Street Stop
East Building - 14th Floor (Solarium Conference Room)
New York City Initiative For An FMPR Support Committee
Angel Gonzalez, Norma Hiram Rodriguez, Pedro Colon Almenas, Frank Velgara, Normita Aponte Rivera, Vicente Montero, Judy Sheridan Gonzalez, Benjamin Ramos Rosado, Rafael Torruella, Artemio Camacho, Carlos Rivera Jones, Reinaldo Rodríguez
Battle Between Big Labor Unions Hits Puerto Rico
El Diario-La Prensa, Posted: Jan 04, 2008
SAN JUAN -- The competition between the two most powerful labor federations in the United States has moved to Puerto Rico, where "Change to Win", whose leadership includes New York-based Puerto Rican union leader Dennis Rivera, is trying to compete with the teacher's union, the island's largest. By the middle of January, Change to Win expects to hold a meeting on the island in which the union will lay out instructions on how it will try to displace the Teacher's Federation of Puerto Rico from its position as exclusive representative of the tens of thousands of teachers working in the public school system.
This labor drama is much more than just a challenge to represent workers, but may well be the battle that marks a major step backward for the AFL-CIO in this Caribbean nation. The battle takes place in anticipation of a major teacher's strike that threatens to paralyze the public school system and in which Change to Win (United for Change) is positioned as a strategic ally of the island's autonomous government, which wants to push the Teacher's Federation out.
DOMINGO 3 de Febrero de 2008
Imprimir el articulo
Lucha entre sindicatos de EE.UU. se traslada a la isla
NUESTROS PAÍSES - 01/03/2008
SAN JUAN/Corresponsal EDLP - La competencia entre las dos centrales sindicales de Estados Unidos por el control del campo laboral se ha trasladado a Puerto Rico, donde "Change to Win" en la que participa el dirigente boricua Dennys Rivera- intenta lograr lo que la AFL-CIO no ha podido, conquistar el sindicato de maestros, el más grande del país.
La lucha no se presenta como una fácil, pero para mediados de este mes de enero está pautada una reunión en la que se espera que se impartan instrucciones para desalojar a la Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico de la posición de representante exclusivo de las decenas de miles de docentes del sistema escolar público.
El drama es mucho más que otro reto sindical por la representación de trabajadores, sino que bien podría ser la batalla que marque una ruta de retroceso definitivo de la AFL-CIO en esta nación caribeña de cuatro millones de habitantes y colonia de EEUU desde 1898. Todo eso en el marco de las vísperas de una esperada huelga de maestros que amenaza con paralizar el sistema público y ante la cual Change to Win (Unidos para el Cambio) se perfila como aliado estratégico del gobierno autonomista para sacar del medio a la Federación.
Desde que la American Federation of Labor logró fusionarse con el Congress of Industrial Unions, el sindicalismo de EE.UU. se mantuvo bajo una central única, cosa que cambió de manera radical en 2005 cuando se formó Change to Win de uniones que se desafiliaron para formar su propia central. La nueva central sindical cuenta con seis millones de trabajadores, mientras la AFL-CIO retiene cerca de 10 millones de trabajadores miembros de sindicatos.
Poco antes de esa crisis, la Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico se separó de la AFL-CIO para inaugurarse como sindicato independiente puertorriqueño, por encima de la lucha sin cuartel que desarrollo la poderosa organización estadounidense. Tan reciente como el año pasado, la United Auto Workers (UAW) dio apoyo financiero a una unión organizada por la Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico que también representa al sector patronal y está vinculada al oficialismo- de manera que se pudiese derrotar a la Federación y reconquistar ese sector de empleados del Estado.
La organización boricua sin embargo logró mantenerse y ahora la Asociación se ha afiliado a la Service Employees International Union de Change to Win. Se anticipa que en este nuevo intento participe activamente Rivera, quien es vicepresidente de la SEIU.
La central Change to Win representa entre 55,000 y 60,000 trabajadores en Puerto Rico y, de ganarle a la Federación, podría saltar a cerca de 100,000 miembros en este país.
Puerto Rico Teachers Delay Strike
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rican teachers will remain on the job at least through next week, putting off a strike that had been threatened to start as early as Friday, the head of their union said.
Teachers Federation President Rafael Feliciano told a local radio station Thursday that teachers still might strike for higher wages and better working conditions, and he urged Puerto Rican Education Secretary Rafael Aragunde to resume negotiations.
"If he is going to insist on confrontation, the teachers will give him a lesson in dignity," the union cief said.
With contract talks at an impasse, the union that represents the U.S. Caribbean territory's 42,000 teachers, had warned that a strike could start as early as Friday.
Feliciano told radio station WSKN that teachers have decided to stay on the job at least through next week. After that, a strike "will begin when the executive committee decides," he said.
Puerto Rican law forbids disruption of the public education system, so strikers are potentially vulnerable to being fired. The island's government labor relations board decertified the Teachers' Federation last month after some of its members authorized a walkout. Many rank-and-file unions members are divided over the threatened strike.
The starting base salary for a teacher in Puerto Rico is $19,200 a year - lower than any U.S. state and about a third less than the average on the mainland.
Teachers threaten strike in Puerto Rico
By LILLIAM IRIZARRY, Associated Press WriterWed Jan 30, 10:08 AM ET
At the end of her teaching day, Felicita Figueroa would like nothing more than to leave her crumbling, rat-infested school building in the Puerto Rican capital. But to pay her bills, she needs to stay late and offer private tutoring sessions.
So she will not hesitate to join an island-wide strike that could begin as early as Friday ‹ even though participating in an illegal walkout could cost her the job.
"I can't take 30 years of this," said Figueroa, 28, adding that her annual salary of $19,500 barely covers food and her share of rent for a small apartment.
With contract negotiations at an impasse, the union that represents most of the 42,000 teachers in the U.S. island territory has threatened a strike to demand pay raises, smaller class sizes and repairs of neglected school buildings.
The starting salary for a teacher in Puerto Rico is $19,200 ‹ lower than any U.S. state and about a third less than the average on the mainland. Puerto Rican teachers with advanced degrees can earn a starting base salary of up to $24,156.
The cost of living, meanwhile, is generally higher in Puerto Rico, with utilities and consumer goods often more expensive than in the U.S. The price of a new car, for example, is 15-25 percent higher, according to the island's consumer affairs agency.
"If I am going to quit in three or four years because I'm not able to save anything, it doesn't make a difference if they kick me out now" because of the strike, said Figueroa, a chemistry teacher who was hired last August.
A strike could leave participants vulnerable to dismissal because of a Puerto Rican law forbidding the disruption of the public education system. The island's government labor relations board decertified the Teachers' Federation last month after a core group of its members authorized a walkout.
The threat has divided the union's roughly 32,000 rank-and-file members, with some arguing teachers should consider their first strike since 1993 only as a last resort. Strikes were legal at the time of the one-day walkout over a charter schools proposal 15 years ago.
"I agree that conditions are miserable and we need to apply some pressure, but not with a strike. We still haven't used up all our options and we don't have a support fund for a strike," said Kenneth Hall, a gym teacher in San Juan.
The government, which has been in contract talks with the union for nearly two years, notes that teachers are eligible for pay increases awarded periodically to public education employees, including a $1,200 pay hike approved in December. The governor and other top officials have said the strike does not have the support of many teachers.
But union leaders say a strike may be necessary to force the government to discuss its key demands - including a pay increase of 18 percent for teachers.
Some teachers say they are prepared to accept smaller raises if the government shows greater commitment to reducing class sizes and improving their buildings.
Figueroa teaches at a school on an old military base in San Juan, the Miguel Such Vocational School, where buildings have peeling paint, mold stains the walls and exposed electrical wiring hangs from ceilings. Teachers frequently hear rats scampering across the rafters, and their droppings litter some classrooms.
The territory's education secretary, Rafael Aragunde, said the government has invested $150 million in repairs for school buildings over the last four years but it is unreasonable for teachers to expect sudden, drastic improvements.
Some teachers do not like any of their options.
"The strike is necessary but doesn't have support," said Carmen Guzman, a 12-year veteran. "We are between a sword and the wall."
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