Teachers in Puerto Rico protest for better wages and pensions : NPR

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NPR’s Adrian Florido speaks with Jose Cintron, a center college trainer in Puerto Rico, in regards to the lecturers’ ongoing strikes to demand higher wages and pensions.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:
It has been a few week since shut to 3 quarters of Puerto Rico’s greater than 20,000 public college lecturers determined to not present up for work. They are saying they’re fed up with the dismal pay, made worse by the truth that quickly, modifications to their pension system will make surviving as a trainer on the island even more durable. A march and protest in the present day, initially deliberate as a trainer’s strike, has expanded to incorporate a variety of public sector staff, from firefighters to police, who say they’re bearing the brunt of Puerto Rico’s ongoing debt disaster. We’re joined now by Jose Cintron. He is a center college English trainer within the city of Barceloneta. Mr. Cintron, thanks for becoming a member of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
JOSE CINTRON: Thanks guys for calling me for the interview.
FLORIDO: Academics in Puerto Rico earn a beginning wage of about $1,750 a month, about $20,000 a yr. That is a very low wage for full-time credentialed lecturers. I’ve lived in Puerto Rico. It is a very costly place to reside. How do you and different lecturers survive on that wage?
CINTRON: I have been receiving this pay for 10 years, of $1,750 for 10 years. There are some lecturers like me. I do tutorials after college this yr. After which I am additionally a legislator – municipality legislator, and I receives a commission for that additional. And it is $75 per session. If you happen to’re married, like me, and I’ve two kids, it’s a must to stretch the invoice – pay water, which is excessive. Lights is getting increased. And it is actually powerful. And it’s a must to have an individual that is aware of the right way to funds and handle your cash. And thank God that I’ve my spouse, that she is aware of the right way to handle the cash.
FLORIDO: After lecturers walked out of the classroom final week, the governor, Pedro Pierluisi, introduced that the federal government had discovered cash to present lecturers a thousand greenback month-to-month increase. That is greater than 50%. And but the protests appear to solely have grown since then. I get the sense this isn’t nearly wage.
CINTRON: The governor did say that there is going to be a increase of a thousand {dollars}, but it surely’s not likely everlasting. We additionally need our fair proportion for our retirement fund as a result of proper now there’s lecturers that will likely be dropping an entire bunch of their proportion.
FLORIDO: You are referring to some fairly large modifications which might be coming to the trainer’s retirement system beginning subsequent month. Academics will not be working towards assured pensions. They are going to have to begin contributing to 401(okay)-style plans. That change is occurring as the results of a deal to get Puerto Rico out of chapter. And I ponder whether you assume that the federal government’s struggles to pay you extra, to ensure pensions, whether or not they’re comprehensible given Puerto Rico’s financial scenario.
CINTRON: It was comprehensible, however with the deal that the legislators made and with the governor backing, it is not serving to Puerto Ricans. We’ll be paying much less in that, however there nonetheless might have been far more cuts to the debt.
FLORIDO: As I discussed, lecturers have walked out of the classroom. I think about that is imposing an actual hardship for households and college students. What are you listening to from them? And when will lecturers return to work?
CINTRON: We have been going to work. So there are specific days that there is some lecturers lacking, after which there’s different lecturers going to the varsity. In the present day was that each – all of the lecturers must be out. The subsequent day that we are going to be having the total strike, it will be on subsequent Friday, the 18 of February. And I have been sending messages to the mother and father to allow them to know that we are going to be on strike, and the bulk have been writing saying that they’re 100% backing us and that they perceive our struggle.
FLORIDO: That is Jose Cintron, an English trainer in Puerto Rico. Mr. Cintron, thanks for becoming a member of us.
CINTRON: Thanks.

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