Sara Lonardo,, 202-730-7332,, 202-730-7332

Issued April 19, 2017

SEIU’s Henry: Puerto Rico’s working families deserve a voice in the restructuring of the $70 billion debt

WASHINGTON, D.C.— SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry issued the following statement after Puerto Rico’s Legislature voted to dismantle the Puerto Rican Debt Audit Commission. The Puerto Rican Debt Commission is the only commission made up of Puerto Rican residents who are tasked with auditing the commonwealth’s $71 billion debt.

“Dismantling the Puerto Rican Debt Audit Commission is just another example of self-interested politicians who rig the rules to favor corporations over working people - in this case Wall Street hedge funds who ran up profits at the expense of Puerto Rico’s working families. Because of this vote, Puerto Rican citizens will no longer have a voice in the restructuring of the debt.

“The commonwealth’s $71 billion debt is forcing families, including SEIU members across the island, to suffer as public services are being cut and wages and hours decrease. If Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares’s plan is completed working people like Norma Jimenez, a 20-year Public School Administrative Assistant and member of SEIU Local 1996 will see their property taxes increase, and their hours and pensions cut. Norma can’t afford any more cuts - she already struggles to care for her elderly mother.

“Puerto Rico’s working families deserve a process that promotes democracy and real solutions. While years of predatory loans have helped Wall Street CEOs to do well, they’ve come at the expense of the island’s workers, who are finding it harder and harder to pay the bills, cover healthcare and child care costs, and stay out of debt.

“We stand with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican working people have struggled for too long with an economic crisis that is hurting their families and communities.”