Congress Must Pass Pro-Worker Puerto Rico Debt Legislation

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018

Congress Must Pass Pro-Worker Puerto Rico Debt Legislation

WASHINGTON - On a conference call today, union and faith advocates for the people of Puerto Rico discussed ways Congress can do its job and help end the humanitarian and fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico.

The AFL-CIO, AFSCME, UAW, UFCW and SEIU represent more than 50,000 working people in Puerto Rico. The groups are working together to provide solutions to protect the working families of Puerto Rico. The call emphasized the need to improve H.R. 4900, the “Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stabilization Act” (PROMESA).

“Wall Street investors and their high-paid lobbyists are blocking legislation that would allow Puerto Rico to pursue an orderly debt restructuring,” said Heather Slavkin Corzo, AFL-CIO Director of Office of Investment. “Their claims that giving Puerto Rico the ability to restructure its debt amounts to a bailout is absurd. Failing to give Puerto Rico the same rights to restructure its debt that businesses and other municipal governments have would be a bailout for bondholders.”

 “One thing that’s abundantly clear is that teachers, public safety officers and other workers and retirees did not cause the crisis in Puerto Rico,” said Bailey Childers, National Public Pension Coalition Executive Director. “The U.S. Congress must allow Puerto Rico to protect public pensions so we do not throw hundreds of thousands of the island’s residents into poverty upon retirement.”

This crisis affects not only those nearing retirement, it also impacts the islands’ youngest residents. Fifty-seven percent of the children in Puerto Rico live in poverty.

"In Puerto Rico education, health care and law enforcement have been cut to pay‎ the debt. When debt has a human cost, debt payments are too much," said Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Network Executive Director. "There can be no economic growth on the island until the debt is brought back to payable levels."

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The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a voluntary federation of 56 national and international labor unions. The AFL-CIO union movement represents 10.5 million members, including 2 million members in Working America, its new community affiliate. We are teachers and truck drivers, musicians and miners, firefighters and farm workers, bakers and bottlers, engineers and editors, pilots and public employees, doctors and nurses, painters and laborers-and more.

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