Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Puerto Rican Teachers Union and the AFT

Received in an email:

Just to let you know that the government decertified the independent and radical union, the FMPR, of Puerto Rico after its delegate body voted for a strike (but the strike had net yet been
called by the leadership). The agency that decertified the union declared that the officers and its 3,000 delegate body cannot run for union elections for 5 years and that the union can no longer deduct fees. A strike is, nevertheless imminent and, if the FMPR has not been bluffing all along, may be quite militant given that it organized strike committees accross the island that are independent of the union's formal structures (and hence, don't need the central leadership's direct supervision or funding). Meanwhile, most other labor leaders have turned their backs on the FMPR and stated that the FMPR knew it would be decertified. SEIU plans to represent the 40K bargaining unit in upcoming elections.

For those of you following the FMPR saga in Puerto Rico -- the largest union in Puerto Rico, which elected a socialist leadership, voted to dis-affiliate from the AFT both through its delegate assembly and a membership-wide referendum, then won a legal case against being put in Trusteeship by the AFT, thereafter won a decert election led by the Asociacion de Maestros, its main "Puerto Rican" rival -- now has a new challenge. The SEIU is gobbling up the Asociacion de Maestros to seek a second decert. Dennis Rivera, leader of the SEIU, seems to be leading the charge ...



By Manuel Ernesto Rivera (AP) San Juan -

The Association of Teachers of Puerto Rico and the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU) today decided to initiate a process of
affiliation to obtain a triumph in the union elections of the
Department of Education. The president of the Association, Aida Diaz,
indicated that still she has not reached an agreement on how much they
would have to contribute of the teachers' dues to the SEIU, and
maintained that those negotiations would take shape once the
organization that she directs becomes the exclusive representative of
the Puerto Rican teachers.

Diaz indicated that this affiliation had been approved by the
membership of the Association.

The president of the SEIU, Dennis Rivera, assured that "the approach
between both organizations was mutual", and recognized that its union
never made a similar approach to the Federation of Teachers, the
current exclusive representative of the teachers. He reminded that the
present leadership of the Federation dis-affiliated itself from the
American Federation of Teachers (AFT, in English) because, in his
opinion, the "rhetoric" of the Federation "is to attack the
international unions". "We did not see the possibility of an alliance
with them", he declared.

The Federation was affiliated with the AFT from its creation in the
decade of the 1970s, but in September of 2004, the assembly of
delegates decided to dis-affiliate itself. Rivera described the SEIU
as "the most influential political organization" in the United States
and "the fastest growing union in the world".

In terms of dues, Rivera maintained that, "We do not desire to get
great quotas. Initially, we have spoken that the teachers would not
pay dues and would then pay a small per capita". Rivera indicated
that the SEIU has 40,000 members in Puerto Rico, half of them in the
Department of Health and about 17,000 in Education.

The Puerto Rican unions have criticized the integration of American
unions in Puerto Rico because they allege that the foreigners arrive
with economic power that is difficult to equal and much less to

The alliance between the Association of Teachers and the SEIU presents
a challenge to the Federation of Teachers, which for more than two
years struggles with the government for the approval of the collective
bargaining agreement. The Association of Teachers seeks to become the
"Puerto Rican Teachers Union" and to become the exclusive
representative of the public school teachers, thus replacing the

Law 45, which made possible the unionization of the public employees
in 1998, was widely supported by the American unions. It was said
that such support was based on their interest to collect hundreds of
thousands of dollars in dues, and the government passed the law in
exchange for the American unions' support of Puerto Rican statehood in

The representatives of the American unions denied such imputation.

Rivera, with his powerful union, was one of the people who most
contributed, at level of the United States, for ousting the U.S. from
Vieques, Puerto Rico.

1 comment:

José M. López Sierra said...

The Second Oscar – Mandela March in New York City 2015

We will be having our 2nd Oscar – Mandela Protest March on Monday, June 22, 2015. We will start marching peacefully at 9 AM from Hunter College on East 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, to East 43rd Street and Lexington Avenue. We will then go East (turning left) to end up at the Ralph Bunche Park on First Avenue (across from the United Nations).

We will be at the park until 5 PM. We will be giving out flyers and talking to people about who Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera is. We will also be educating the public about Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the government of the United States (US).

Most people don’t know that every year, usually on the Monday after Fathers’ Day, the United Nations holds its hearing about the decolonization of Puerto Rico. The petitioners will usually join our protest after this meeting.

The UN determined in 1960 that colonialism is a crime against humanity. Since then, the UN has issued 33 resolutions asking for the US government to immediately decolonize Puerto Rico. The US government has ignored these resolutions. What kind of democracy is that?

The US government tries to keep these hearings a secret. What we are trying to do is to get them out of the closet. The UN is in its 3rd decade trying to make the world colony-free. Please help us!

Most people also don’t know that the United States government takes out 14 times more money than what it invests in Puerto Rico. But, that is what colonies are for!

This savage exploitation impedes Puerto Rico’s ability to provide opportunities for Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. That is why there are now more Puerto Ricans living away from Puerto Rico than in their homeland.

Oscar López Rivera has been incarcerated for 34 years for his struggle to decolonize Puerto Rico. Since colonialism is an international crime, international law gives Oscar the right to use whatever means necessary to decolonize his homeland. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years for doing the same thing as Oscar. This is why we say, Oscar López Rivera is our Nelson Mandela!

United Partners for Puerto Rico Decolonization invites the public to be part of the tsunami of people that will be necessary to make the US government comply with the UN resolutions. These annual protests in Puerto Rico and at the UN are absolutely necessary, because, those who maintain colonies, don’t believe in justice for all!

Jose M Lopez Sierra,