Governor names Multisectorial Advisory Council for construction

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia appointed a Multisectoral Advisory Council on Monday which will oversee payment of employees in all construction projects financed totally or partially with federal funds and that are contracted by the government of Puerto Rico, at the rate established by the federal government, which is $10.95 per hour.

The governor also ordered the creation of a multisectoral group made up of representatives of the construction sector, the labor sector and the government.

The Advisory Council will be chaired by Labor and Human Resources Secretary Carlos Rivera Santiago and will include Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Executive Director Manuel Laboy; Housing Secretary William Rodríguez; Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Executive Director Efran Paredes; Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority Executive Director Doriel Pagán; Transportation and Public Works Secretary Eileen Vélez; and Office of Management and Budget Director Juan Carlos Blanco; as well as three leaders of the union movement and three businessmen from the construction industry, all appointed by the governor.

The governor announced that the three members of the construction industry are: Builders Association President Alfredo Martínez Álvarez, General Contractors Association of Puerto Rico President Umberto J. Donato, and Engineers & Surveyors Association President Juan F. Alicea Flores.

Martínez Álvarez has over 25 years of experience in the real estate field, he was elected president of the Builders Association in 2020, and prior to that he was vice president and treasurer of the organization.

Donato, an architect, has 26 years of experience in design and construction, and also has experience in finance, organizational strategy, architecture and civil engineering, among other areas. Since last year, the governor said in a press release, Donato has distinguished himself as president of the General Contractors Association.

Alicea Flores, meanwhile, has been president of the Engineers & Surveyors Association since 2019. He has over 35 years of experience as an engineer, and has held various positions at PREPA, where he worked for more than 20 years, including as executive director of the public corporation starting in 2008.

The governor also appointed three members of the union sector: José Rodríguez Báez, Edison Severino Corniel and Davon Lomax.

Rodríguez Báez is a prominent union leader with extensive experience in the labor movement for the past 40 years. In 2006, he was appointed representative of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), a position he currently occupies, representing private sector and construction workers.

Severino Corniel is the director of organization and political coordinator of Liuna in Puerto Rico. He has over 20 years of experience, and vast knowledge helping workers in union organizing. In 2015 he was appointed as supervisor of Liuna’s organizational vision with workers in the construction sector in Puerto Rico.

Lomax is district political director of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. He began his career as a painter’s apprentice and quickly went on to work in the union as an organizer, a position he currently holds. He has been an advocate throughout New York State for training and building workforce development facilities.

Pierluisi said he appreciated the availability of the three members of the construction industry and the three members of the union sector to work in unity of purpose for the well being of the workforce on the island.

“We have to work together to guarantee better working conditions and fair pay to those who work hard every day for a better future,” the governor said. “Our goal must be to increase and retain our workforce to develop and rebuild Puerto Rico.”

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