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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Union, gov’t employees demand immediate implementation of incentivized retirement program

Puerto Rican Workers’ Central President Emilio Nieves Torres

By The Star Staff

The union Puerto Rican Workers’ Central (CPT by its Spanish initials), along with public employees from various agencies and public corporations, demanded Tuesday that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and the Financial Oversight and Management Board “immediately implement the incentivized retirement program offered to more than 10,000 employees.”

CPT President Emilio Nieves Torres pointed out that the incentivized retirement, the equivalent of 50% of the salary for thousands of workers, has been in place since August 2020 but its implementation has been delayed due to some agreements that the government and the oversight board have been discussing since December 2021. This has generated uncertainty, anguish and despair among workers who had that incentivized retirement from Act 80, he said.

“Although Act 80 was challenged by the fiscal control board, litigation in court was avoided, giving way to an agreement before Judge Laura Taylor Swain for an alternative plan to implement Act 80 and produce savings for the Treasury,” Nieves Torres said.

The heads of agencies and public corporations have already identified eligible workers in other retirement programs. Those are workers who, in most cases, have been in the retirement system for more than 30 years and with a right to a pension under Act 447 of 1951 (whose pension was reduced from 75% to 40% or less) and Act 1 of 1990 (with a pension that was reduced from 75% to 29%), he said.

Nieves Torres noted that “July 14, 2022 [Thursday] is the deadline for the agreement between the oversight board and the central government. This means that each agency, public corporation or municipality has already identified the workers to whom Act 80 is going to apply.”

“However, the agency heads have not notified [us] how many workers and who is eligible to take advantage of the incentivized retirement,” the union leader said. “The only information we have is that they intend to use as the only criteria the classification of essential and non-essential employees. In this case, Act 80 establishes that the agencies reserve the right to retain an employee in their position. This means that if an agency head determines that all of the employees are essential, none will benefit from the incentivized retirement, turning Act 80 into a hoax or into a subjective tool where partisan political criteria could sneak in. The government cannot say that the board is to blame for not including all those eligible, because the government is part of the deception.”

The workers demanded the following: First that each head of an agency or public corporation already reports how many of the eligible employees they identified as non-essential.

Second, each agency head, the Office of Management and Budget and the governor explain precisely the criteria to establish what is an essential employee and what is a non-essential employee. Third, that the governor must fulfill his program commitment to grant public employees a pension of a minimum of 50%; and fourth, the oversight board must desist from its intention to annul Act 80 and to sabotage the social justice and dignified retirement that workers demand.

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