This island nation has had one of the most advanced economies in the region, and is home to resilient, determined people who have braved challenges ranging from colonization to slavery to severe economic downturns. Through Puerto Rico’s history thousands have fought for the right to join together in unions, resulting in the birth of several labor unions including two SEIU locals which have brought together thousands of people who work in healthcare and in the central and municipal governments.
Puerto Ricans have shouldered nearly a decade of economic and financial reversals and are in need of immediate, comprehensive and long-term solutions, as Puerto Rico’s economy is in a free-fall and unemployment is more than double the average in the United States. On top of that people in Puerto Rico have paid a high price for the government’s financial setbacks – through increased taxes and user fees, job losses, cuts in public services, and potential loss of pensions.
Public services in Puerto Rico are being privatized at an alarming rate which is likely to only accelerate in the event of a government default on Puerto Rico’s debt—with affected Puerto Rican workers without a political voice to counter the attacks.
SEIU members have called for a comprehensive and orderly restructuring of the total debt of the Puerto Rican government and its public corporations in a way that is fair to all stakeholders, including government employees, retirees, taxpayers and bondholders.
Since 2010, more Puerto Ricans have left the Island since the Great Migration after World War II, causing the separation of families, the loss of skilled labor force, and the creation of a vibrant and strong Diaspora community in many cities across the United States.
Therefore be it resolved that:
- SEIU Puerto Rico will build a wider movement hand in hand with working people and partners to build worker and political organization to win economic and social justice and create the just society we envision. Together we will create the necessary power needed to reclaim the economy by auditing and restructuring the debt, with the implementation of progressive tax reform and a sustainable short and long-term economic development plan.
- SEIU Puerto Rico and the Diaspora communities across the country, including SEIU locals and members, will deepen their partnership to help win for working people in 2016 and beyond.
- Now that members of Puerto Rican labor unions are finally permitted to actively endorse political candidates and make voluntary contributions to political action committees, SEIU Puerto Rico will use this strategy to innovate in its development of member leaders to continue organizing and changing the political foundation of the Island.
- SEIU Puerto Rico will continue to support working people in Puerto Rico and help to bring about new forms of organizations for workers—both on and off the Island—to confront and overcome the deep economic and political crises facing the island and to achieve a just and humane society that works for all Puerto Ricans.