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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Citizen Victory Movement mulls filing amicus in Fiscal Board suit

By John McPhaul

On the occasion of the commemoration of Labor Day, the legislative delegation of the Citizen Victory Movement (MVC by its Spanish initials) rejected the actions of the Financial Oversight and Management Board against better employment conditions in the private sector.

The party announced Sunday that he is studying the possibility of presenting a friend of the court “Amicus” in the lawsuit filed by the Board to try to annul Law 41 of 2022, which repealed elements of the Labor Reform of 2017 and restored rights to the working class.

“The lawsuit filed by the Board, in addition to being another insult to the people of Puerto Rico and to legislative work, unduly interferes in aspects of labor regulation where there are no public funds involved. The fact that the Board does not want rights restored to people employed in the private sector shows once again its dictatorial and undemocratic face. It aims to ‘replace’ the legislative function and tell us what can and cannot be legislated. It is unacceptable. The Board wants to impose its view that employment, or the way in which the economy is going to develop, is based on the exploitation of labor; an economic and political vision that crushes the people and does not recognize the right to decent work and decent conditions of employment. I repeat, it is unacceptable,” said Senator Ana Irma Rivera Lassén, minority leader in the Senate of the MVC and chair of the Committee of Human Rights and Labor Affairs that has worked intensively on this legislation.

Similarly, the representative and alternate minority leader José Bernardo Márquez said that “the action of the Board has no legal or economic basis. What it reflects is an obsession with harming the working class in order to impose a failed austerity agenda. It represents a frontal attack on our legislative powers and, of course, on the working conditions of thousands of people, particularly young people. As of 2017, we have a youth entering the world of work in significantly worse working conditions than previous generations. That, by definition, is not progress, but regression. Nothing in the PROMESA Act empowers the Board to interfere with these types of public policy decisions, and we want to put that on record in federal court.”

In the lawsuit filed, the Board maintains that Law 41-2022 was approved without the analysis and study necessary to confirm that the repeal of certain elements of Law 4-2017 will not have a significant impact on government revenue. However, for the delegation of the MVC, it was the one of 2017 that was approved without any type of study or metric.

In addition, to date, no analysis is available that validates its success. On the contrary, they maintain that it has created a critical labor situation that has exacerbated the fiscal, economic and social crisis that the island has been going through for years. Therefore, given the concern that the recently approved law will be annulled, and the precedent that this could create with respect to the powers that the Board has been awarded, the MVC delegation will study intervening as a “friend of the court” to express the foundations that validate the fact that Law 41-2022 remains in force.

To that end, the senator and alternate minority leader Rafael Bernabe Riefkohl said that “the actions of the Board are not based on the facts or the data. They start from neoliberal dogmas that ignore all real experience. The vast majority of the rights the law restores existed for decades and did not impede economic growth. In fact, they coincided with the times of greatest growth. It is simply the anti-worker agenda that wants development at the expense of the working class. Employers’ organizations, such as MIDA and ASORE, which were unable to stop the measure in the legislature, are now joining the Board, to try to deny these rights. They talk about democracy, but they count on the dictatorship of the Board. We will go to court while continuing the fight in the legislature and on the street.”

For her part, the representative and spokesperson of the MVC in the House of Representatives, Mariana Nogales Molinelli, added that “from the legislature and outside the legislature we will continue to defend the people; that is why we understand that the presentation of an Amicus to defend the labor reform is a moral imperative. The Board has been in charge of receiving those who are against labor rights and economic progress, they even announced with great fanfare that they would go to court, and we remember that strange provision in the PROMESA Law that allows gifts to be made to the Board. Have they bought it? We are with the people, unlike the Junta that dances to the sound of the one who throws coins.”

It should be noted that in the same vein as the MVC was expressed by the Association of Economists of Puerto Rico, who said that “It is unlikely that making the labor market precarious will increase production, labor participation and employment in the case of Puerto Rico. In any case, in order to achieve these objectives, it is important to offer incentives to workers by increasing their compensation and promoting better employment and living conditions. In this way, productivity and a fairer redistribution of wealth are promoted in the country.”

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