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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

‘Teacher’s flu’ march slated to protest PAD implementation

Teachers and their supporters are being asked to rally at Plaza Colón Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and march from there to La Fortaleza.

By John McPhaul

The Public Education Defense Coalition (FADEP by its Spanish acronym) asked teachers on Sunday to resume the “teacher’s flu” protest action this coming Tuesday and march from Plaza Colón at 10:30 a.m. to La Fortaleza.

“After the meeting held with the [Financial Oversight and Management] Board on March 11, where its executive director Natalie Jaresko insisted on maintaining the defined contribution system with the age increase to 63 years of age, Puerto Rican teachers do not have any other alternative to continue the fight for a dignified retirement to demand different solutions to the future of misery that the board wants to impose on them with the PAD [the Spanish acronym for debt adjustment plan],” Puerto Rico Federation of Teachers (FMPR by its Spanish initials) Vice President Edwin Morales said in a written statement. “While the meeting was held, hundreds of public school teachers demonstrated in front of their schools in support of FADEP and demanding a dignified retirement for teachers.”

“The [oversight] Board’s lawyer indicated in the hearing of the First Circuit of Boston last week that they were willing to maintain the defined benefit pensions of the teachers, to avoid a setback in the case that is heard in court today, but when we attended the meeting with the Board, it was confirmed that it was all a lie to prevent the appellate judges from granting the paralysis of the plan, a request made by FADEP through its legal representation,” Morales added.

“In the meeting with the Board we submitted our proposals to maintain our defined benefit pensions, in addition to alternatives to raise funds to the public treasury in the framework of maintaining this acquired right of the teaching profession that guarantees a decent retirement,” he added. “It is a lack of respect for the teachers, a lack of empathy and humanity on the part of this Board, which arrives at the meetings without preparing, to conduct public relations, while insisting on imposing its recipe for misery on the teachers, all this to guarantee the payment of illegal debt.”

“The alternatives are on the table and we hope that they will be dealt with promptly while the case is aired in Boston in its expedited process,” said another FMPR official, Noelanie Fuentes. “Faced with this reality, the teachers have no choice but to continue taking to the streets, continue strengthening the fighting committees in each school and prepare to continue defending their retirement until justice is done, guaranteeing a dignified old age for the country’s teachers. This is not over, no one is leaving here.”

Separately, Puerto Rico Teachers Association (AMPR) President Víctor Manuel Bonilla Sánchez said last Friday at the end of a meeting with the oversight board that, despite the fact that his proposals aimed at preserving pensions at 75 percent and maintaining the retirement age at 55 years were not accepted, he insisted that they will be reevaluated soon.

“The meeting was very effective. At least they listened to the proposals,” Bonilla Sánchez told reporters after Friday’s meeting. “They asked all the usual questions. All of the three proposals were very emphatic in saying the age, the 75 percent and the 30 years of service. They were, to say the least, very receptive to the proposals. They told us that we are going to be in dialogue with them when they analyze it to see the viability that we offered them.”

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