NYSNA Stands With Puerto Rico’s Electric Industry Workers, Voices Opposition to Sale of Puerto Rico’s Public Power Company

OR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 23, 2018
CONTACT: Carl Ginsburg | carl.ginsburg@nysna.org | (917) 405-1060


Unions Call to Keep the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in Public Hands

TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2018In the face of broad criticism for failure to put the health and welfare of the people first, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced today that the U.S. territory is moving to sell its public power company, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). The announcement comes just two days before PREPA is due to submit a revised fiscal plan following the destruction of Hurricane Maria four months ago.

The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) today voiced its strong opposition to the sale.

“A public utility is just that—for the people. A private power operator will be concerned first and foremost with its profits,” said NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN. “Placing the island’s recovery in the hands of private interests is bad for the people of Puerto Rico. The island’s power must be publicly controlled so that the people can determine their own future.”

Over the past few administrations, Puerto Rico’s Electric and Irrigation Industry Workers Union (UTIER) has consistently denounced plans to privatize PREPA. The union claims that since Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s government has intentionally slowed the process of restoring the electric system to create a pathway for privatization.

Said UTIER President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo, “The Governor is taking advantage of the pain of thousands of people who are now without electric power...We have warned for decades that several administrations...have intentionally disabled us as workers, and weakened the infrastructure, seeking that people get fed-up with the service so that they can privatize our leading industry.”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also opposes the sale, calling the privatization an attempt to, "create chaos at a time when citizens are in need in order to sell something as positive that will be negative in the long run."

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Maria, NYSNA sent nurses to some of the island's most remote areas to help the injured and those in need of medicines. Just this week, another wave of RN volunteers, joined by volunteers from other unions, arrived in Puerto Rico to provide medical assistance.

Gov. Rosselló said the sale process would begin in a matter of days and occur in three phases over the next 18 months.



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