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  • The San Juan Daily Star

PREPA employees, retirees to march on La Fortaleza to demand that governor sign pension protections


Wednesday’s demonstration on behalf of protections for the pensions of active and retired Rico Electric Power Authority workers is called for 10 a.m. in front of Plaza Colón in San Juan, from where marchers will march to La Fortaleza.


By THE STAR STAFF


The “Energy Alliance” of employees and retirees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) demanded on Monday that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia sign into law a bill that protects the present and future pensions of PREPA workers, for which they are calling a mass demonstration on Wednesday in front of La Fortaleza.


The legislation whose signature they demand of the governor is House Bill (HB) 1429, which proposes to create the “Law for the Restructuring and Prudent Issuance of PREPA Debt,” which among other things orders PREPA to respect the order of payment priorities in the Trust Agreement that requires PREPA to pay its operational expenses, those that include the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s Employee Retirement System, before any type of bond.

It also orders the vigorous rejection of “any Adjustment Plan, Restructuring Agreement or Creditors’ Agreement that harms the credit and rights of both active participants and those already pensioned in PREPA’s Employee Retirement System.”


“The Energy Alliance calls this demonstration to demand that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi sign the legislation,” said Johnny Rodríguez Ortiz, president of the PREPA Retirees Association. “This is the only way to guarantee our present and future pensions.”


“We fight for our pensions, but we also defend those of all the comrades who have dedicated a life to working in the Electric Power Authority, and now that they are about to retire they want to snatch and change them to a 401K retirement system, a proposal that the mobilized rejected when the privatizer LUMA Energy usurped the Electric Power Authority,” he added. “That is unacceptable.”


Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo said meanwhile that “the path that the governor and the Legislature intend with the privatization of generation will not only have a deteriorating effect on the working conditions of the comrades who have served the people, but it also will bring an increase in the energy cost in addition to what LUMA has already imposed on the country.”


Ronald Vázquez, vice president of the PREPA Retirees Chapter, pointed out that “we also support the proposal presented by the Retirement System Board of Trustees, which guarantees the payment of present and future pensions without increasing the bill.”


Rodríguez Ortiz estimated that PREPA’s current debt with the Retirement System “is around $900 million,” and that “it was known that there was money equivalent to the payment of pensions until March of this year.”


He reiterated his position demanding the exit of the private operator from PREPA’s distribution and transmission network.


“We will continue to insist that the company LUMA Energy must go, but fundamentally, we are calling all our enrollment to this march, which is in struggle, no longer in defense, we are in struggle for our pension fund,” Rodríguez Ortiz said.


The demonstration is called for 10 a.m. in front of Plaza Colón in San Juan, from where marchers will leave for La Fortaleza, where they will express to the governor their demand that he sign HB 1429, which is expected to arrive on his desk this week

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