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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

UPR non-teaching employees vote to go on strike



A new collective bargaining agreement between the Brotherhood of Exempt Non-Teaching Employees and the University of Puerto Rico was reached in February, but the UPR governing board has yet to ratify it.

By The Star Staff


The Assembly of Delegates of the Brotherhood of Exempt Non-Teaching Employees (HEEND by its Spanish acronym) at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) voted unanimously on Thursday to authorize the implementation of the strike vote at the university.


The HEEND board of directors may declare a state of strike at any time. The move was in response to what HEEND leaders said was the intransigence and refusal of the university administration to ratify the union’s new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).


Last February, HEEND managed to resolve the roadblock related to a financial stipulation that gives its members a bonus of $3,000 for signing the CBA. After overcoming that major hurdle to finish the negotiation, UPR’s governing board has not fulfilled its responsibility to ratify the CBA negotiated by President Luis A. Ferrao, the HEEND leaders said.


The refusal of the employer’s decision to sign the entire agreement has left employees with no choice but to fight for their rights, the union said in a press release.


“We have exhausted all avenues of dialogue and negotiation,” HEEND President Carlos J. de León said. “Our Labor Protections are at stake, and we cannot allow them to be violated. The strike is our answer, legitimate and necessary.”


“Since the negotiation culminated last December 2023, the Collective Bargaining Agreement was never in controversy,” HEEND Vice President Lorraine Mejías said. “Whatever story the administration is sketching right now for not signing the Convention [amounts to] invalid excuses, resulting in a threat to our institution, so the strike vote is activated.”


A coalition of various trade union organizations, some of which are also at the negotiating table with the university administration, as well as associations of employees, students, and retirees, showed their support for HEEND and will be demonstrating alongside its members.


Following the strike announcement, Ferrao said the UPR administration has been diligent and has maintained an ongoing dialogue with the HEEND leaders.


“Last February 2024, I signed with the leaders of HEEND the approval of the economic stipulation that grants the members of the organization a non-recurring bonus of $3,000, taking into consideration that the HEEND agreed not to request a salary increase, recognizing the fiscal situation of the institution,” Ferrao said. “Consequently, it was determined that, once the Remuneration and Classification Plan had been approved, it would be the appropriate way to conduct a fair salary review for all, in line with the central government’s public service reform.”


“Meanwhile, I recently submitted to the governing board the HEEND Collective Bargaining Agreement, with the agreed clauses. If accepted by the governing board, the agreement will be submitted to the Financial Oversight and Management Board, in accordance with fiscal policy,” the UPR president added.


“We are instructing our membership to pick up their belongings and stop cooperating with the university administration,” de León said. “We make a call to the university governing board to ratify our collective bargaining agreement at its regular meeting on May 30. In the meantime, we’ll be performing demonstrations on the 11 campuses and next Wednesday, May 29, we will take our indignation to La Fortaleza to demand that Gov. Pedro Pierluisi bring order at home. If the [UPR] governing board and the governor do not attend to our demands, we will be forced to close campuses.”

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