Ex-gubernatorial candidate Delgado: LUMA a ‘threat’ to electrical system
By John McPhaul
Former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for governor Carlos “Charlie” Delgado Altieri on Wednesday called LUMA Energy, the private consortium that operates Puerto Rico’s electricity transmission and distribution system, a “threat” to the restoration of the island’s power grid after it demanded that workers for potential local contractors be affiliated with a single stateside union.
“The plan for the rehabilitation of the electric power grid in Puerto Rico, for which we have waited so long, will be seriously altered if it is insisted that the contracted companies have employees exclusively affiliated with the union chosen by LUMA,” the PDP vice president said in a written statement. “This imposition changes the conditions of employment and recruitment and increases the total cost of projects that have already been presented to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provides most of the funds.”
Delgado Altieri joined business leaders who have voiced opposition to the requirement that workers join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, to which employees of LUMA’s affiliated company, Quanta Services, also belong.
“LUMA intends that these local companies have union staff in some projects, with employment conditions that their workers from other projects that are not part of the reconstruction plan will not have,” he said.
He said he feared that island businesspeople would be deprived of participating in the historic allocation of funds and that, on the contrary, foreign companies would be in charge of most of the million-dollar projects.
The former mayor of Isabela added that the difficult situation for local entrepreneurs could have been prevented if Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia had honored his promise to review the public-private contract with LUMA Energy.
“We are facing another of the adverse effects of the governor having preferred to defend LUMA and not the Puerto Rican people, because he allows that company to put a straitjacket on more than 25 local companies that were available to develop the projects.”