Teachers’ groups clash over pension pact with fiscal board
By John McPhaul
The Public Education Defense Coalition (FADEP by its Spanish acronym) accused the Puerto Rico Teachers Association (AMPR-AFT) of “organizing a fraud to impose on the teachers an agreement that provides for the retirement of educators and that only contains benefits for that organization.”
The group made up of several teachers’ organizations called on the AMPR-AFT leadership to a debate, to be transmitted through social networks, on the agreement signed with the Financial Oversight and Management Board on any date before Sept. 23, when the voting begins. The FADEP leaders made their statements at a press conference in front of the AMPR-AFT headquarters in Hato Rey.
“We call on the membership to defeat the agreement between the Association and the fiscal control board,” said Mercedes Martínez Padilla, president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Federation (FMPR). “We have to vote en masse, as they have designed a process where the sectors that oppose this compromise do not participate. Our quality of life in a stage where we are most vulnerable is at stake.”
The AMPR-AFT and/or the oversight board hired a company that will carry out the process without observers from those who oppose the agreement.
“The FADEP publicly invites the leadership of the Association to a public debate on the implications of this agreement,” said Migdalia Santiago, president of EDUCAMOS.
The debate would be broadcast through social media.
“The agreement between the AMPR-AFT and the fiscal control board eliminates pensions of 75% of salary and dramatically cuts what teachers will receive in their retirement. It raises the retirement age from 55 to 63 years, eight more [years] than what it is today,” said Liza Fournier Córdova, president of UNETE. “We cannot accept this arrangement.”
“In exchange for this agreement, the Teachers Association will not have to face union elections in the next five years, despite the will of the teachers,” said Martínez Padilla of the FMPR. “It also creates the conditions to impose on the teachers the PROSSAM medical plan and the expenses of fees and advertising incurred by them would be paid by the people of Puerto Rico if this agreement is approved.”
The FADEP called for a protest on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in front of AMPR-AFT offices in Hato Rey to show its rejection of the agreement.