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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Administrative workers at Centro Médico to go on strike

By The Star Staff

Medical Services Administration (ASEM by its Spanish acronym) workers will go on strike Jan. 26 at the Río Piedras Medical Center to protest against “illicit practices” conducted by the agency’s management.

Edwin Méndez, president of the General Workers Union, said “ASEM managers are using the Financial Oversight and Management Board as a pretext not to sit down to negotiate labor conditions seriously.”

“We believe that ASEM management is negotiating in bad faith,” he said. “Bad faith negotiations can result in unfair and unfavorable agreements to workers. Collective bargaining agreement negotiations must start on a basis of mutual respect and transparency.”

According to a statement from the union, as of Jan. 26, the emergency room, the trauma area, the operating room, and external clinics of the Río Piedras Medical Center, among other medical services to citizens, will be closed.

Méndez highlighted that ASEM “maintained secret written communications with the Oversight Board, while in face-to-face meetings with the union’s negotiating committee, they had indicated that the conversations they have had with the supervisory body have been verbal.”

“In those written communications they sent to the Oversight Board were draft documents of our proposals on the negotiating table, to which they never responded and never presented a counterproposal,” the union leader said.

Besides poor labor conditions, the union has for years been denouncing problems caused by staff shortages at the medical center.

“The shortage and flight of personnel can be stopped by declaring health service essential,” the union has said in the past.

Declaring health care an essential service would protect and assign the medical center sufficient funds to hire the necessary personnel to provide quality services, the union asserted.

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