by Valerie Martínez Paris
Last Friday at the Henry Klumb plaza, Antonio Martínez, a University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus employee, explained how he felt towards the possibility of losing his health plan, a situation that arose from the much heard of Law #7. Martínez claimed that “this new law has overturned the employees of the university who feel they have been taken advantage of.”
Law #7, according to the public file posted on the Government health information page, was created “with the purpose of undertaking through an integral and responsible way the financial crisis of Puerto Rico, protecting its credit and providing a plan to stabilize the financial situation…give back to the government its financial health through a plan that consists in investment measures, better financial management and reduction measures.” However the latter part which refers to reduction measures alarmed the employees and questioned if the Government is protecting their benefits for working in the public institution.
The health plan the UPRM provides to the employees has a cover that applies to the extended family of each employee for example the children, wives, husbands or other family member can be covered by the health plan. According to the finance department of the UPRM a total of 1,902 employees receive the university health plan. Law #7 has created fear and confusion within the UPRM employee community. The question is what is the action to take if the employees are left without the health plan? According to the HEEND (Hermandadde Empleados Exentos No Docentes) union March 16, 2010 newsletter, the government plans to eliminate the plan known as “unique” and give the employees the government public plan, which covers less than half than the plan employees currently have. The union claims that they will fight for justice because it is not their fault the government has not administrated the country’s money wisely. If it is the Governments best interest to fairly resolve the money issue the employees hope to not fall under the cutting that is going to be done to urgently help the economic crisis. On the other hand the Board of Trustees has in its hands a certification that can change the future a lot of possible students of the UPRM.
The approval of the certification #98 by the Board of Trustees looks to cut the employees’ children’s benefits of free tuition and the health plan provided by the university. The employees are willing to fight and want to keep the government from instituting the reduction clause because this means that they won’t have the benefits they used to have for being employees of the public institution. What will be the end result of this situation is not really certain. The employees claim for justice and as citizens of Puerto Rico they are opened to learn more about what the Government plans to do to save the economic status from falling. In addition clarify what is to be done regarding their health plan and their future as public institution employees.