Saturday, February 16, 2008

Puerto Rico Teacher Issues from Mike Antonucci

Mike Antonucci of the Educational Intelligence Agency has done the most comprehensive reporting on the situation with the Puerto Rico teachers union.

Here is a chronology of his reporting through Jan. ’07, with his permission. It is quite a yarn.

Focus on the role the AFT has played. Mike does have a point of view that is not pro-union, so take that into account. Mike’s web site is at:

November 15, 1999
The NEA-AFT merger may not have worked out, but in Puerto Rico the AFT merged unions the old-fashioned way -- by winning an election to become the exclusive bargaining representative for the island’s 37,000 teachers. The victory makes the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) the second-largest AFT affiliate in the nation, behind only the United Federation of Teachers in New York City. While NEA sank at least $350,000 into its campaign, the union couldn’t match the on-the-ground organizing of AFT, which brought in allies from AFL-CIO member unions to help in the effort. NEA will lose the dues income (an estimated $2 million annually) generated by its affiliate, the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR). But a bigger blow was the final tally -- 22,156 votes for AFT and 8,024 for NEA -- indicating that a large number of the 22,000 full-time and part-time NEA members voted for their AFT rivals.

July 15, 2004
2) Intrigue in Puerto Rico. Over the years, EIA has reported on some unusual union stories, but today brought a real blast from the past concerning Puerto Rico. Back in 1998, when NEA and AFT were lobbying members to approve a merger of the two unions, their respective affiliates in Puerto Rico were going toe-to-toe in an effort to win exclusive bargaining rights for the island’s more than 22,000 teachers and school employees. AFT had the geographical edge, with its locals in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to aid the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR). But NEA spent $300,000, and rounded up Spanish-speaking UniServ directors from across the country, to help the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR). EIA covered the battle extensively.

In 1999, FMPR won the representation election by a large margin, though AMPR had been the larger organization. It looked like a total victory for AFT, as FMPR picked up a large number of former AMPR members, and AMPR itself soon disaffiliated from NEA, citing lack of support.

That’s the way the situation stood until sometime last year. EIA reported on an unusual meeting with AMPR representatives and NEA officials in Washington, DC, but nothing seemed to come of it. On the other side, FMPR was undergoing a revolution of its own.

After the union’s medical plan went bankrupt, FMPR members ousted the local’s officers in a May 2003 election. An FMPR faction called CODEMI (for Compromiso, Militancia y Democracia) won the election, and one of its campaign promises was to disaffiliate from AFT. This week, members of FMPR have been distributing to AFT delegates an open letter from FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez. In it, Hernandez accuses the AFT of “improper intervention in the internal affairs of the FMPR.”

Hernandez claims AFT is in contact with the union’s former leaders in an effort to keep FMPR affiliated. He accuses the national union of visiting members, conducting surveys, and delivering organizing lectures, all without consulting the elected FMPR officers. “These reprehensible tactics represent the establishment of a parallel structure utilizing teachers who are loyal to the AFT and who have refused to accept the decision of Puerto Rico’s teachers to renovate union leadership,” he wrote.

“The present leadership of the FMPR have obtained important objectives despite the lack of support from the AFT and the millions of dollars that are drained from our union funds by the AFT,” Hernandez wrote, adding, “Far from being of any help, the AFT is an obstacle to our development.”

Why does faraway Puerto Rico matter? Well, for one thing, FMPR is larger than a dozen of NEA’s state affiliates, and would be in the top ten in size of AFT’s state federations. That’s a lot of members and a lot of dues.

September 13, 2004
1) Palace Coup Underway in Puerto Rico Union. One might think that events in Puerto Rico would barely qualify as a sidelight in overall interests of the American Federation of Teachers, but with about 37,000 potential members, the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) could eventually rival the Chicago Teachers Union in size. The stakes are high for AFT, and all indications suggest the union is making its play.

On July 15, EIA reported exclusively on an open letter distributed to AFT delegates by FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez, accusing AFT of "improper intervention in the internal affairs of the FMPR." Feliciano Hernandez was elected in 2003 on a platform that included disaffiliation from AFT (you can read his agenda – in Spanish -- at In particular, Feliciano Hernandez claimed AFT was building a parallel structure of FMPR officials who wanted the federation to remain in AFT.

Last Monday, Feliciano Hernandez announced publicly that FMPR had officially begun the disaffiliation process. AFT had no public comment about the announcement and, privately, the union expressed no concern about it at all. Now we know why.

Today, the FMPR governing board announced it would call on the union's representative assembly, meeting on September 29, to formally investigate Feliciano for 40 alleged violations of the organization's regulations.

After AFT presidents have been ousted in Miami, Washington, DC, and New Hampshire, it is impossible to dismiss the charges against Feliciano Hernandez out of hand. But one must also wonder whether this is exactly what the "parallel structure" was designed to do. At the very least, the disaffiliation will be stalled until Feliciano Hernandez addresses the charges.

November 22, 2004
3) Disaffiliated or Not? The Puerto Rico Mystery. When last we checked (see the September 13, 2004 EIA Communiqué), the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) was planning to disaffiliate from AFT, but the process had been stalled by loyalists who filed complaints against FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez. It is difficult to determine exactly what happened at the union's delegate assembly on September 29, because EIA only has the version distributed by the victors, but Feliciano Hernandez clearly outmaneuvered his accusers.

The delegates voted 783 to 392 to disaffiliate from AFT, and apparently confirmed the stewardship of Feliciano Hernandez over the direction of the union. Nevertheless, it is now late November and FMPR is still paying its national dues to AFT and has made no evident effort to formally end its ties with the national union. AFT, quite rationally on its part, still considers FMPR to be an affiliate.

EIA's efforts to obtain clarification from FMPR have been, so far, unsuccessful.

May 31, 2005
) AFT Embarks on Civil War in Puerto Rico. The American Federation of Teachers plans to establish an administratorship over its affiliate in Puerto Rico, but the union president says he will fight the effort with every means at his disposal.

The island has been a hotbed of union conflict for both the NEA and the AFT for many years (see the July 15, 2004 EIA Communiqué for a summary). The two unions battled for exclusive representation against the backdrop of national merger talks in 1998, the AFT affiliate (the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, or FMPR) won the representation election, the NEA affiliate left NEA and became independent, and FMPR's medical plan went bankrupt. In May 2003, Rafael Feliciano Hernandez ran for president of FMPR on a platform of reform and disaffiliation from AFT. He won, but the divorce from AFT did not occur as planned.

Last year, Feliciano claimed AFT officials contacted FMPR's former leaders in an effort to keep the union affiliated. Accusations flew back and forth, with some FMPR officials charging Feliciano with corruption and unconstitutional actions, and Feliciano claiming AFT was trying to undermine his authority.

Matters came to a head on September 29, 2004. Details of what occurred that day are in deep dispute, but both sides acknowledge that a vote on disaffiliation was held, and that the result was overwhelmingly in favor of disaffiliation.

AFT did not recognize the disaffiliation, and while FMPR stopped paying dues to AFT, it continued to make payments on a $1.9 million remnant of a loan from the 1999 representation election campaign. Relations between the two unions remained in a hazy limbo until January 2005, when hundreds of FMPR reps opposed to disaffiliation petitioned AFT to investigate the vote and the tenure of Feliciano.

In March, AFT sent national vice presidents John Cole of Texas and Maria Portalatín of New York (chosen for their fluency in Spanish) to the island to conduct interviews. The investigation was not ideal, since opponents of the disaffiliation were eager to testify, but Feliciano and his supporters no longer recognized the authority of the AFT, and so did not cooperate.

After a three-day probe, Cole and Portalatín concluded that the FMPR leadership had committed multiple violations of both the AFT and FMPR constitutions. They advised AFT to "follow the procedures for the creation of an administration committee," saying it was "the only remedy that will restore the rights" of FMPR members. The AFT Executive Council approved the recommendation and will send Cole, Portalatín and John Doherty of Chicago back to Puerto Rico to begin proceedings for the establishment of an administratorship over the union.

The AFT team reported that the disaffiliation vote was not placed on the agenda of delegate assembly 30 days prior, as required by the FMPR constitution, that there may have been ineligible delegates who voted, and that the conduct of debate was slanted in favor of those who wanted to disaffiliate. Additionally, the AFT team stated that disaffiliation required an amendment to the FMPR constitution, and that the process for constitutional amendments was not followed. Finally, the team accused Feliciano of administering the union budget without the proper oversight by FMPR's representative bodies.

In response, Feliciano issued a statement repudiating AFT's plans and announcing that FMPR did not recognize AFT's authority. Feliciano called AFT's action a "declaration of war" against FMPR and all the unions, political and social organizations that support it. Over the weekend, supporters and opponents of Feliciano held dueling press conferences to alternately praise and denounce him.

Though the dispute may seem like small potatoes in a faraway place, the FMPR has as many members as AFT's affiliate in Chicago, and there is a huge amount of money at stake. If Feliciano is corrupt and is seizing undemocratic control of an AFT affiliate, then AFT has the right and responsibility to act. But this is a different scenario than what happened in Washington, DC and Miami, where AFT let long-time union presidents bleed their locals dry before stepping in.

Feliciano and his slate announced their intentions to disaffiliate from AFT while they were candidates in 2003, and they were elected. That a disaffiliation should then take place hardly seems to fly in the face of the will of the members. Second, does AFT really have the authority to intervene? What's to stop the union from reversing any disaffiliation vote in the same manner? The election losers call you in, you hear testimony from them, you rule the vote was improper and you establish national control over the affiliate. Whether Feliciano is a crook or a saint, he'd be insane to trust AFT to impartially judge the situation. AFT has a huge financial stake in the outcome.

Whatever AFT or FMPR does in the next month, this whole mess is going to end up in a courtroom, where it belongs.

P.S. Search if you will for any mention of this anywhere on the AFT web site, or in any of its many publications, statements or releases.

June 6, 2005
2) Was AFT's Puerto Rico Coup Two Years in the Making? More details from EIA's English language exclusive on AFT's attempts to impose an administratorship on the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) over the objections of that union's president:

El Nuevo Dia interviewed the president of FMPR's local in San Juan, Lorelei Lopez Nieves. She told the newspaper that although she favored continued affiliation with AFT, and disagrees with FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez, she opposes any attempt by AFT to take control of FMPR.

Lopez Nieves said AFT was exploring the idea of an administratorship ever since Feliciano took office in August 2003. She said she was one of 15 teachers who took a leave of absence to participate in an AFT education project. Her account (roughly translated) was: "I was thinking it was an education project and I realized it was a 'decapitation' project against Rafael Feliciano and in favor of administratorship; that's why I decided to return to the classroom."

Lopez Nieves also claims the letter sent to AFT by hundreds of FMPR representatives calling for an investigation of Feliciano was solicited by AFT itself and did not call for the establishment of an administratorship.

Meanwhile, FMPR has retained the assistance of SAL, an organization of island attorneys, who called the AFT effort "an attack on a union's democratic self-determination and against the Puerto Rican workers' movement."

June 13, 2005
2) Puerto Rico President Defies AFT Panel. AFT held a public hearing in Puerto Rico last week to determine whether to place the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) under national administratorship. The event quickly turned into political theater, which you're missing if a) you don't read Spanish, and/or b) you're waiting for the AFT to say something, anything, about this potential loss of thousands of members and millions of dollars.

FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez and his supporters appeared at the hotel where the hearing was being held, only to discover it was on the sixth floor and security would not let them on the elevators. This, according to a press report, "caused a heated incident."

Because Feliciano has refused to cooperate with AFT's investigation, the national union evidently didn't expect him to show up. Feliciano ended up taking the stairs to the sixth floor, where AFT allowed him to make a statement (albeit a little winded), though he and his supporters refused to be sworn in by the committee.

While Feliciano spoke, two groups of demonstrators protested noisily outside – one with orange shirts (pro-AFT), one with yellow shirts (anti-AFT).

Feliciano told the AFT panel that FMPR had legitimately disaffiliated from AFT last year, and that the national union no longer had any jurisdiction over the FMPR's internal operations. He called recent events an attempted "golpe de estado," or coup d'etat, by AFT and its loyalists in Puerto Rico.

After completing his statement, Feliciano refused to be questioned by the panel and left.

The dispute is almost certain to end up in court. In the meantime, Feliciano and FMPR have put together an impressive list of supporters, including most of the island's labor unions.

July 18, 2005
1) In Puerto Rico, It's the American Federation of "Dues-Suckers." In his keynote speech to the AFT QuEST conference on July 7, AFT President Edward McElroy mentioned John Kerry, CAFTA, NCLB, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, merit pay, membership numbers, lobbying, and the current dissension in the AFL-CIO. He didn't mention that the day before, AFT established an administratorship over a 32,000-member union that had seceded from AFT in September 2004, or that there were protesters outside with signs reading "AFL-CIO, Out of Puerto Rico" and "Chupa Cuotas" or "Dues-Suckers."

AFT completed its Puerto Rico adventure by stripping of power the elected leadership of the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) and naming former FMPR President Felix Rodriguez Hernandez as AFT's Temporary Administrator. Current FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez (no relation) promises not to go quietly.

Incendiary accusations are being tossed back and forth in this ugly dispute, but the key legal issue will be whether AFT can apply its rules and administratorship over a union that seceded – regardless of whether AFT believes the secession vote met its standards.

According to AFT, "there is no doubt that an AFT administratorship is necessary both to correct the systematic repression of democratic rights that has occurred and to restore fiscal responsibility to the FMPR." The union accuses Feliciano of a "pattern of discrimination based on political orientation," "financial malpractice" and a "carefully orchestrated campaign of intimidation, interference and coercion."

Additionally, AFT asserts that Feliciano failed to abide by the FMPR Constitution in conducting the disaffiliation vote and in budget approval matters. LaborNotes reports that AFT's complaint about the disaffiliation vote was dismissed by Puerto Rico's labor commission.

Feliciano has no shortage of fiery rhetoric either. He has consistently argued that he and his slate were elected on a platform of disaffiliation, that the FMPR delegates made their desires known with their vote on the issue last September, and that the AFT no longer has any type of legal authority over FMPR. "Its imposition of an administratorship has as much substance as the wind," he said.

In his statement to the AFT investigative panel on June 7, Feliciano stated, "The illegal and arbitrary investigation that this panel has been charged with undertaking is only dressing for the AFT's plans to stage a coup and destroy our union's precious democracy, trampling over the FMPR's Constitution and bylaws with the goal of recovering their millionaire sweetheart deal and lost power." He referred to AFT's notion of justice and democracy as "little less than medieval." (I have posted a couple of photos from the June 7 protest on the EIA web site. Many FMPR supporters wore yellow shirts.)

Feliciano has for a long time claimed that AFT was creating a parallel structure in Puerto Rico in an effort to head off disaffiliation. Now they have one. The two competing administrations now operate out of separate offices in San Juan, and have separate web sites ( and

There are more than a few ironies here. In it stated purpose to protect the FMPR Constitution, the AFT has suspended it "to the extent necessary to allow the administrator to perform his/her duties." FMPR has rallied and picketed at AFT hearings and events. Some of the most avid labor activists and leftists are denouncing AFT for its "labor imperialism."

After turning a blind eye to the activities of Barbara Bullock in DC and Pat Tornillo in Miami for so many years, AFT is sensitive to accusations of union presidents running roughshod over members' rights and dues money. But the national union's actions in Puerto Rico have the distinct smell of United Fruit.

Aug. 1, 05
2) AFT's Attempted Takeover in Puerto Rico Heads to Court. In an expected move during a conflict that has been filled with surprises, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) filed a civil case in U.S. District Court against the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) and its president, Rafael Feliciano. AFT's complaint stems from the national union's attempt to install an administratorship over FMPR, which disaffiliated last September, and FMPR's resistance to that effort. Both sides have filed numerous motions, and the resolution of the dispute may ultimately hinge on technical and jurisdictional matters.

EIA is in possession of most of these court documents, and a preliminary injunction hearing to enforce the AFT administratorship is scheduled for Tuesday, August 9. FMPR has also filed a motion to dismiss.

Two key questions to be decided outside of the merits of the case are whether the federal court has jurisdiction, and whether AFT has standing to file suit based on the charges it made. FMPR claims the court lacks jurisdiction because AFT filed its claim as a dispute between labor organizations under provisions of the Labor-Management Relations Act. Neither FMPR (nor Feliciano) is a labor organization subject to the LMRA. Additionally, FMPR claims AFT's charges pertain to alleged injuries to FMPR members, and that AFT, not being a member of FMPR, has suffered no injury on its own behalf to support filing suit.

For its part, AFT claims that, as an AFT affiliate subject to the AFT constitution, FMPR does not have to meet LMRA's "labor organization" definition to be subject to its provisions. And the national union adds that, "The AFT has also suffered and will continue to suffer significant injury to its reputation" as long as FMPR defies the administratorship.

(Editorial aside: How much injury can AFT's reputation suffer when the only place members and the public can regularly read about this story is in the EIA Communiqué?)

If the legal questions are resolved in AFT's favor and the suit goes to trial, the chief issue will be, as FMPR baldly declares, "The AFT has no valid legal authority to impose trusteeship to a non-affiliate party." Can AFT prove with a preponderance of the evidence that FMPR's September 2004 disaffiliation was conducted not only improperly, but fraudulently? Its own investigation may not stand up to scrutiny. As FMPR cleverly cites The Federalist No. 10: "No man is allowed to be judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity."

Aug. 8, 2005
2) AFT Loses First Two Skirmishes in Puerto Rico. AFT's first efforts to enforce its administratorship over the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) were dealt a double blow last week. Federal magistrate Gustavo Gelpi ruled that FMPR is no longer subject to the National Labor Relations Act and so AFT cannot sue under the act's provisions. FMPR hailed the decision, while AFT's response was to refer to Gelpi as “the equivalent of a judge's assistant," noting the final decision belongs to U.S. District Court Judge Jay Garcia-Gregory. Both sides will submit their replies today to Gelpi's ruling, and Judge Garcia-Gregory is expected to make his own ruling on August 22.

Meanwhile, AFT Administrator Felix Rodriguez met with the Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Rafael Aragunde, in an effort to have the agency recognize the AFT administratorship as the true representative of Puerto Rico's teachers. However, Aragunde said he will follow a neutral line in the dispute and that FMPR remains empowered "until a court says the opposite."

August 22, 2005

1) AFT Loses in Puerto Rico's Courts and Ballots. The hopes of the American Federation of Teachers of regaining its affiliate in Puerto Rico were hit with two fatal blows last week.

In the first, U.S. District Court Judge Jay Garcia-Gregory ruled that the court has no jurisdiction to decide AFT's lawsuit intended to enforce its administratorship over the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR), its local that disaffiliated in September 2004. FMPR is subject to the collective bargaining law of Puerto Rico (Law 45) and not the National Labor Relations Act. Thus, the AFT suit was dismissed without its arguments being considered.

The AFT administrator, Felix Rodriguez, said AFT would evaluate its legal alternatives. He also announced plans to establish regional offices and to undertake a bus tour of the country's schools to organize opposition to FMPR and garner support for the administratorship. AFT supporters also called for a boycott of the August 18 referendum on the organization's future, called by FMPR President Rafael Feliciano to put an end to the question once and for all.

If the numbers are to be believed, both the boycott and the referendum were a disaster for AFT.

With an 84 percent turnout among the island's 32,616 FMPR members, disaffiliation defeated affiliation by a margin of more than 3 to 1. Rodriguez called the referendum "a vile and fraudulent effort to deceive."

AFT has lost in every venue in Puerto Rico, but it clearly isn't giving up. With no legal or practical way to exercise authority over FMPR, its operations, facilities or finances, AFT is left with only alternative: creating a rival union. Early signs indicate AFT is considering just such a step.

In the organizing game "Survivor: Puerto Rico," AFT has been unable to outwit and outplay its FMPR opponents. It remains to be seen if AFT can outlast them.

Aug. 05

4) Detailed Results Show AFT Was Pummeled in Puerto Rico. The Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) released the local results of the August 18 referendum on disaffiliation from AFT. Disaffiliation won a majority in 12 of the island's 13 regions and 83 of 94 districts. The only significant AFT support came in the northwest part of the island, while FMPR handily won the districts with the most members: San Juan, Ponce and Bayamon.

Sept. 16, 2005
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Thus ends AFT's formal presence in Puerto Rico. As EIA has reported (exclusively for a long, long time), AFT's efforts to regain control of the disaffiliated Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) have been defeated at every turn. The national union conceded defeat by shutting down the AFTPR web page with the above notice, and overnighting a letter to FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez on Wednesday, notifying him that AFT was revoking FMPR's affiliation!

Additionally, the AFT Executive Council terminated the administratorship over FMPR (which never took practical effect anyway), and included a pointed reference to outstanding loans and back dues payments. AFT wants the latter repaid by next Friday. Good luck.

It bears repeating that it has been almost a full year since the FMPR disaffiliation vote, and following months of investigations, protests, rallies, lawsuits, an administratorship, court decisions, a referendum, and a charter revocation, you will still search in vain for any public statement about these events from AFT national headquarters. Can't have the loss of 32,000 members undermine the message, can we?

Sept. 26, 2005
3) AFT Raises the White Flag in Puerto Rico. If you missed Friday's story in Intercepts, here are the highlights:

As EIA has reported (exclusively for a long, long time -- see here and here for example), AFT's efforts to regain control of the disaffiliated Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) have been defeated at every turn. The national union conceded defeat by shutting down the web page of its administratorship, and overnighting a letter to FMPR President Rafael Feliciano Hernandez on Wednesday, notifying him that AFT was revoking FMPR's affiliation!

Additionally, the AFT Executive Council terminated the administratorship over FMPR (which never took practical effect anyway), and included pointed reference to FMPR's "substantial debt to the AFT" for previous loans and "between 17 and 18 months back per capita" to be repaid by September 23.

FMPR previously acknowledged its loan debt to AFT, but is unlikely to pay back dues when it has always maintained it disaffiliated in September 2004. Nevertheless, AFT is now out 32,000 members. Any odds on when we'll see the press release on that news?

Oct. 24 2005
AFT's LM-2 also sheds some light on a story that occupied EIA's attention for much of the year – the union's attempted "coup d'etat" against the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR). You can read "Intrigue in Puerto Rico" in the July 15, 2004 EIA Communiqué, plus do a search of the EIA Archives for "FMPR" to read the other 12 installments of EIA's Puerto Rico coverage.

Though AFT still has yet to acknowledge any events in Puerto Rico to its members, it appears EIA's efforts were justified by the resources AFT deployed on the island. Last year, AFT spent $2,838,195 on what it called the "AFT Puerto Rico Project," with an additional $71,589 going to a local attorney for legal services, $108,369 to a Rafael Benitez of San Juan, presumably for organizing work, and $8,835 to Prensa Interactiva for publication services.

This $3 million expenditure dwarfs AFT's organizing outlay anywhere in the United States for 2004-05. The end result, however, was a defeat at the ballot box and in the courthouse.

Oct. 2. 2006
The LM-2 also reveals AFT spent nearly $1.9 million on its Puerto Rico project (see Item #2 below), an attempt to defeat an effort by its Puerto Rico affiliate to leave AFT. An additional $211,000 was disbursed to individuals in Puerto Rico engaged in organizing activities on AFT's behalf.

2) Teacher Union Wars in Puerto Rico Not Done Yet. When AFT cut its losses and surrendered in Puerto Rico, there was good reason to believe that the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) would return to obscurity, as far as the U.S. national labor movement was concerned. But apparently that isn't the case.

Without AFT backing, local opponents of FMPR President Rafael Feliciano and his caucus have looked elsewhere for support, and appear to have found it in two places, if the scuttlebutt is to be believed: the formerly NEA-affiliated Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (ASOMA) and the United Auto Workers.

ASOMA left NEA and collapsed as a viable organization soon after FMPR won exclusive representation rights in a 1999 election. Now it's back, allegedly bolstered by FMPR dissidents and seed money from the United Auto Workers, which has a significant presence on the island.

ASOMA is seeking a new representation election for some 40,000 teachers in Puerto Rico, which we can expect FMPR to fight with all the verve it displayed in the AFT disaffiliation battle.

May 14, 2007

1) Puerto Rico Representation Election Likely to Go Forward. If my limited Spanish reading skills are up to snuff, it appears the labor commission in Puerto Rico has recognized the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR) as a legitimate teachers' union, paving the way for an election to represent the island's more than 42,000 teachers.

The incumbent Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) had challenged the status of AMPR, claiming the rival union was a company union - a management tool to rid it of the antagonistic FMPR. The labor commission disagreed with this assessment, and although it has the authority to call an election with 14 days' notice, it probably will not schedule a vote until August.

FMPR used to be affiliated with AFT, and AMPR with NEA, but currently both are independent (see Item #2 here). Both national unions are gun-shy about getting involved again in Puerto Rico, but an AMPR victory could eventually lead to renewed ties between Puerto Rico's teachers and one or both of the mainland teachers' unions.

January 22, 2007
2) Representation Election Likely in Puerto Rico. Barring an unusual government action, it appears we will witness a singular event in K-12 education labor history: a representation election for 42,000 employees in which neither union is (currently) affiliated with NEA or AFT.

The Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR) is the challenging organization. Once affiliated with NEA, AMPR dissolved its ties with the national union after losing the island’s initial representation election in 1999.

The Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR) disaffiliated from AFT in 2004, then fought off an AFT attempt to establish a national administratorship over it (keyword search “Puerto Rico” in the EIA Archives for the long and bloody history).

The island’s labor relations board has yet to call an election, but may do so with only 14 days’ notice. Both sides are operating under the assumption that an election will be held during the first week of February.

The campaign will go ugly early. If FMPR retains exclusive representation, it will probably put an end to challenges to its primacy for the foreseeable future. If AMPR wins, it is equally likely that it will be wooed for affiliation by NEA and/or AFT – perhaps both together – and other stateside public employee unions that could certainly use the boost 42,000 new members would bring.

Updates to the story from other sources are being posted on this blog. USe search words "Puerto Rico" and/or FMPR to find them.

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