DE non-teaching employees demand promised pandemic hardship incentive
By John McPhaul
Non-teaching employees of the Department of Education (DE) demonstrated on Monday in front of La Fortaleza to demand justice and equity for their sector of public education.
Led by the Puerto Rican Workers Union (SPT by its Spanish initials), the non-teachers demanded the intervention of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia so that the promises made on behalf of his government by Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés are fulfilled.
“A year ago they announced that the non-teaching sector that worked during the pandemic would be rewarded with an additional incentive available with federal funds,” SPT President Israel Marrero Calderín said in a written statement. “Since then, Secretary Ramos, on multiple occasions, in writing, in public and in private, reiterated that he would deliver this incentive, moving the delivery date up to now, he has UNILATERALLY changed the criteria to qualify for it, eliminating thousands of employees who risked their health and safety during the pandemic by working in person at schools.”
“We warned both the secretary and the governor that the level of outrage among working people in schools is higher than they can imagine,” Marrero Calderín added. “They have caused discomfort and anger that they must address by fulfilling their promises as soon as possible.”
The SPT president said he trusts that they will be granted a meeting in La Fortaleza, where they can express the discomfort that exists in the schools, that the governor will commit to paying the incentive to those who worked in person in the schools during the pandemic, and their salary demands for DE non-teachers will be addressed.
“The government has to fully understand that the school community is more than teachers and students and that without the contribution of the non-teaching sector, schools do not work!” Marrero Calderín said.
The union leader also noted that they are still waiting for the decision of the San Juan Court on their request for a permanent injunction so that non-teachers are paid the same incentives that have been granted to other DE personnel.
The SPT, along with fellow labor union PASO, represents more than 8,000 non-teaching workers in the DE.