UTIER: PREPA-Luma deal omits union worker pacts

By The Star Staff

The contract that the administration of Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced awarded to LUMA Energy LLC to manage the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system recognizes neither the collective agreements of unionized workers nor the Electrical Industry and Irrigation Workers Union (UTIER by its Spanish acronym) as the sole union representative of the workers, nor does it assume any responsibility regarding the employees retirement system, warned UTIER President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo.

The union leader urged workers to read the contract, which does not guarantee PREPA’s workers will have a job under the new management.

The contract reads that LUMA Energy will use commercially reasonable efforts to interview and evaluate as candidates for employment the “regular employees of Owner and its Affiliates (other than Owner’s generation employees, including certain administrative and plant operations personnel) who are currently and remain employed by Owner and its Affiliates (other than Owner or its Affiliates generation station employees).”

The contract further states that LUMA Energy will not be liable for severance or other pay or benefits for owner employees who are not hired by the firm, including those to whom an offer of employment is made but who do not accept such offer.

“LUMA will not validate the collective agreements nor will it recognize either the UTIER or any other union as the exclusive representative of PREPA workers,” Figueroa Jaramillo said. “In the contract with Luma Energy, it says that they will not, but it is necessary to remind Luma and the governor that the only way to guarantee job stability, accident insurance, the retirement system and other acquired rights is through full acceptance of the Collective Agreement according to constitutional laws and rights.”

Luma Energy’s only obligation is to interview workers, but without the obligation to hire them and if the employee is left out, Luma Energy will not pay the corresponding compensation, the UTIER president said. Figueroa Jaramillo urged employees not to rush to accept the unsafe conditions of the labor proposals presented by LUMA.

“The contract does not establish that all workers will be employed, it says that they will be interviewed and they will decide whether to keep them or not, under the classifications, requirements and conditions that LUMA decides,” he said. “But, again, the only thing that guarantees job stability or that the rights acquired as a result of PREPA transactions will not be lost, is the collective agreement and its union representation supported by constitutional laws and rights.”

The union leader alerted PREPA employees about what LUMA may offer. UTIER has said the contract is invalid because it violates current laws and was negotiated behind closed doors. The contract does not say what LUMA’s responsibilities would be with regard to PREPA’s retirement system.

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