Puerto Rican teachers' unions are preparing to go on strike to protest the reform of their retirement system signed by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla.
García Padilla signed the teachers' pension reform on Dec. 24. The teachers are scheduled to return to work on Jan. 9 and to resume teaching students on Jan. 14.
Several unions represent Puerto Rican teachers. Some are telling them not to go to work on Jan. 9, according to a source at one of the unions, the Association of Puerto Rican Teachers. The association has told the teachers to return to work on Jan. 9 and that the strike may start on Jan. 14, the source said.
The Association of Puerto Rican Teachers is trying legal strategies to overturn the reform, the association source said. The association represents about 25,000 active teachers, about 60% of the teacher labor force. It also has 11,000 retired members.
A source close to the governor said, "We will continue to talk to the teachers and we are confident that a strike will not happen."
The planned strike would be a continuation of strife over the pensions in recent weeks, including violence between demonstrating teachers and police, which has led to a few arrests. Sen. President Eduardo Bhatia accused protesters of urinating on legislators' seats, according to El Nuevo Día newspaper.
At least a dozen threats to authorities have reportedly been made, including a death threat to the governor and his family, El Vocero de Puerto Rico reported.
Along with the reform to the teachers' pension, the governor also signed a reform to the judges' pension system. However, the latter had a far smaller actuarial liability than did the former.
The Association of Puerto Rican Teachers says that the new benefits system will only increase the guaranteed pension for those teachers who have 30 or more years of service by July 31, 2014.
Those with less than 30 years of service by that date will get an annuity based on the number of years of service performed up to July 31, 2014.
All work after that date will be covered by a defined-contribution plan. Benefits will depend on the performance of the teachers' retirement system investments. The benefits will be paid out in annuities.