The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) thought that it had things all wrapped up in Puerto Rico this year. This most powerful of American unions even held its annual convention on the sunny isle to showcase its power to overawe its intended prey. Apparently the small, local teachers union had other ideas, though.
The SEIU blew into Puerto Rico to gobble up the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (FMPR), or in English, the Puerto Rican Federation of Teachers. The SEIU’s plan was to add that small union its ever growing list of unions it has gobbled up and quashed in the U.S. But, it looks like the locals weren’t as interested in being gobbled as the SEIU thought.
In a stunning upset, the members of the FMPR voted against allowing their union to become a part of the SEIU. On October 23, the final vote was announced and it revealed 14,675 teachers voting to join the SEIU and 18,123 against.
Of course, the SEIU planted the seeds of its own loss by the heavy-handed tactics it used in order to steal the union away from local control. In March, the New York Daily News reported that the SEIU tried to go around behind the then striking Puerto Rican teachers union and appeal to the Island’s government to help settle the strike. Without the approval or knowledge of the FMPR the SEIU tried to shoehorn its way into defacto representation of the teachers by getting government recognition.
Needless to say, the FMPR was not pleased to find that it had become the pawn of the SEIU’s latest power grab. Hence, the anti-SEIU vote by the rank and file teachers.
It is also widely believed by the FMPR that the SEIU pulled some shady moves in the vote. Some FMPR members claim that up to 2,000 votes were stolen by the SEIU and ballot boxes stuffed in an attempt to wrest control of the union from the locals. But it was to no avail. The FMPR will, for now, not become a part of the SEIU. It’s a victory for the little guy in the face of the onslaught of the most powerful union in America.
But, let’s not pop the Champaign corks just yet. While it is good to see Andy Stern defeated, there is no reason to celebrate the existence of the FMPR in the first place. After all, the leader of the FMPR, Rafael Feliciano, is openly socialist. So, for sure its Puerto Rico’s kids that are on the losing end of the stick, regardless. They were to either have their education endangered by the SEIU or by the socialists in the FMPR. Either way, not a good prospect.
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