Group Title: Puerto Rican Garment Factory Managers Interviews, 1986
Title: Estudio de Mujeres Trabajadores Cuestionario, Entrevista No. 158. Transcript.
ALL VOLUMES CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00078902/00002
 Material Information
Title: Estudio de Mujeres Trabajadores Cuestionario, Entrevista No. 158. Transcript.
Series Title: Puerto Rican Garment Factory Managers Interviews, 1986
Physical Description: Archival
Language: Spanish
Creator: 158
 Subjects
Subject: Migración rural urbana
Rural-urban migration
Status of women
Spatial Coverage: North America -- Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico -- Rincon
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00078902
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


I PERSONAL
INFORMATION
This is an interview with I LURRED Director of the ILGWU in Puerto

Rico, Good afternoon PERSONAL INFORMATION BLURRED

m.w. Could you tell me hos long you have worked with the IG,

m. I started with the IAG in January of 1950, so I am on my 31 year.

w. And where did you work before you came to Puerto Rico.

m. I started in the () Massachussetts area

w. You started in what?

m. I started as a business agent. I really started with the IOG as a

part time organizer in 48 and 1949. In 1950 I became a full time regular

employee business agent, in the () area. In 1950, then in 1959 I went

up to () Pensylvania as a district manager. Then in 1965 I came to Puerto

Rico as a regional director. I have been in Puerto Rico since 1965.

w. 1965, so were you in a good position to see some of the changes

that the garment industry has undergone here in Puerto Rico in this past

16 year period.

m. Yes

w. What would you say have been some of the major changes in the garment

industry has undergone

m. Well from the worker's point of view I I think thatthe getting

brZ their wage levels up to state side minimums, federal minimums, that is

I believe is the biggest accomplishments

w. When did that happen?

m. Well over the las several years with the last enactment of, or

minimum wage legislation by Congress. Puerto Rico has now on the yearly

basis catching up to the stateside minimum. And I would think that

for all intents and purposes most of the industries throughout the

states try minimum level () as they come an hour

w. I see

m. When I came to Puerto Rico, 1965 for example, the minimum wage in the
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








Page 2


corset brasier industry was $1.26 an hour

w. In 1965

m. I was apalled. To find such a diferential...

w. that was compared to what in the states at that time?

m. I cannot recall, but certainly at that time we were you know well over

$2 an hour.

w. I see

m. It is not minimum industry wages. For years in Puerto Rico we

had a bienial system where every two years the tri part committee would

meet, and decide on how high the minimum wage should increase, but

every industry see had its

w. tri party coalition

m. individual minimum wage. I would say that with the advent of the

mass registration several years ago() now the Puerto Ricans are at

least at the state wide minimum wage level. There are still several

that are behind, I think the hankershif industry, and the glove

industry will need a couple of years before they attain the the

state side level of 3.10 per hour.

w. I see, so not all of the industries are in the t*kgxxxx same...

m. () I would say the overwhelming majority are now.

w. Has the union played a role in bringing the minimum wage to

Puerto Rico.

m. Yes, we take a great deal of credit. We tell the yeung riganizes

workers as well as the organized workers that it was the concerted

efforts of the labor movements in Washington to convince finally

congress or finally the president to adopt a higher federal

minimum wages. I think...
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








Page 3


w. But also to include Puerto Rico

m. And to include Puerto Rico.

w. And when was Puerto Rico included in the minimum wage legislation?

m. Well, it has always been affected, but since the minimum wage was

lower in Puerto Rico when national legislation, you know was enacted,

Puerto Rico would be affected either by the same centers per hour, or

percentage. So that each federal act did affect Puerto Rico, or it

was affected by it () Ithought you know, just tremendous.

w. I see, some...

m. That's the subject now, I think that the economy is better of

for it, because we Puerto Ricans are delightful spenders, and all you

\have to do is visit the major shopping malls that exist in Puerto Rico

on a Friday or Saturday and you'll be convinced that the Puertoricans

Just spend their money.

w. and this, by rising the minimum wage permits them to spend more

money.

m. oh, absolutely, come to millions and millions of dollars its like.

I am reminded by the chamber of commerce and manufacturerers association

here in Puerto Rico that they would have opposed equal fiERxai midfdf

federal minimum wages afording a rdialfdg really d&~mikIfnHA&fi igays

imik kfikhj benefiting more than anyone else because the Puertorican

workers are spending this additional money among the members of the

chamber of KxmEm commerce. and the members of the chamber of commerce

benefit

w. yes, that is very true, that is certainly was true in the united

states as well. You know. Ah, there are some that would argue that

the rising of minimal wages and the extension of minimal wages to
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611









page 4


Puerto Rico has Kmxt caused industry to leave the island. And to go, to

seek production elsewhere where labor costs are cheaper. Would you agree

with that?

m. No, I I couldn't agree, because to offset the competition, the

actual competition we would have to reduce our wages substantially less

than the level of the present. Ah, for instance in the Dominican Republic,

which is just a few miles a hop and skip and a jump from Puerto Rico,

Sthe wage over there is 50 cents an Jhur. Here we have state side

manufacturers who have plants in Puerto Rico, they have exported the

technology, American technology and they've given the Dominican workers

the very same facilities to produce garments and after a couple of

years I believe they are as productive as we are here in Puerto Rico.

But taking the minimum from 2.50 an hour to 3.10 an hour just to do

Some figures, is not the problem. The problem is one of vast imports

to be competitive with the offshore people we would just have to reduce

our wages to 50 cents an hour 75 cents an hour

w. But what can be done in other words to compete with offshore production

m. Oh, I think that the federal government has to decide to protect the

industry by establishing proper tariffs. It is a matter now of free

traders versus the fair traders. I think that that is what the problem

is. ikjikjihjRlj The people in Washington, the people in Washington

at the state department. People who convince the president of the

United States, Congreessmen, and Senators, feel that to establish

protective barriers with the aparel industry apparently are not worth

while compared to other problems, international and political problems,

that exist.

w. Have you felt that the C nrn es ham nota bef tue responsive. There are
UniversityofFlorida319 Linton GrinterHall- Gainesville, Floida32611
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611









page 5


some tariffs now in existence.

m. some

w. some quotas, there is a quota running system

m. There is a quota system where countries meet and mutually agree on

tariffs levels. But the figures speak for themselves. When I came to

Puerto Rico, 16 years ago, I was told then and the statistics obviously

supported it that 2/3 of all the brasiers sold in the united states

were made in Puerto Rico. It was a big joke, you know, that the

Puerto Rican woman sustained the American women, in the United States.

As it turns out now, I think the figures show that probably 2/3 of

all brasiers sold in the United States are imported.

w. -see

m. So our friends in Korea, n our firends in Taiwan, our friends in

the Philipines, and our friends below, you know south of the border,

your know, are suppling the overall you know production

w. That means therefore that brasier production and other garment

production has dropped in Puerto Rico then too.in recent years

m. Yes I would say that that there has been a far loss in the aparel

industry. Our industry for example, our membership have a high point

I came to Puerto Rico in 65, I don' t have the figures, you know, from

Sthe memory I think we have six or seventh thousand members. Then

we have a high peak of just about 15oo in 1972-74 but now we have

\_._dropped off to about 13,a0Q.

w. I see, so it has affected union membership as well.

m. Yes

w. of course.

m. Yes, we put some major what I consider major employers in Puerto
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 6


Rico, employers of 500 or more workers closed in Puerto Rico, just

liquidated. Their tax exemptions had expired, Their move to Puerto
f `---------. ----
Rivo established their residence, they liquidated the business and

took their accumulated profits and went back to the states.

w. or went elsewhere

m. no, to my knowledge they did not go elsewhere. A large manufacturer

for instance Glucon took one plant with pretty close to 1000 people

just got into difficulty from a high level managerial point of view,

got involved in other products outside the aparel industry and the

company just disappeared. Several other large manufacturers Forever

Yours and Melody this gentlemen just retired from the industry.

To my knowledge they are not active in the brasier industry anylonger.

w. I see

m. Then we are talking of those three people alone employed 2000 workers.

w. I see, is the union able to do anything about preventing industry

from leaving?

m. No

w. Or closing up, no I know that there is nothing...

m. No an employer has the right to go out of business when he wants

to, what we do, we do have protective clauses in our agreement that i

if he is leaving Puerto Rico to operate elsewhere non union then we have

recourse to pursue him, to take whatever legal accion we want.

() But we have never had any case of employers closing in Puerto Rico,

and running. We hado one, a langerie operator, did just that, he

closed out in Arrecibo wento to the Dominican Republic, We just

sued the problem of under the agreement with the impartial chairman

and went through snamx some long litigation the matter was settled.
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611







7
Page 7



() He never did return to Puerto Rico because this particular products

just coldn"t be made profitably here because his competition now is from

the Philipines.

w. I see, is there anything that the government can do to prevent industry

from living the island?

m. No, I thing, I think that over a long time that it is just a loosing

battle becuae the trend is to seek out the cheepest labor possible.

And at the present time the standard of living in Puerto Rico is such

that it cannot be sustained by the wage level that garment manufacturers

seek to pay. So the trend is togo offshore. I presume that 15 25

years from now that the population explosion that is now in existence

in Brazil it may very well be the next major supplier of cheap apparel.

w. China

m. Some aparel will always s remain. We have some manufacturers whose

markup is greater who are brand names, they have been mBxi mixing,

some offshore work and some domestic work, and the mixing of the two

permits them to remain competitive.

w. I see, you know. So better quality garments are more likely...

m.. Better quality and bradn names

w. I see

m. Then there is no gimmiks. The One major manufacturer now has

changed his packaging as a new innovation and the response seems to

be very exciting. And they may recapture some of the market that

they have lost to their you know american competitors. () Better

price range.

w. What do you think of the government program for unemployment insurance

and the food stamp program and so on. Do you think that that helps the
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611







page 8



workers who are employed in rather low wage industries?

m. Well, certainly the food stamp program, as far as I am concerned is

vital to the Puerto Rican population. Interestingly enough we have

10 per cent of the program utilized in Puerto Rico which indicates

to me that we have probably the largest concentration of people under

the American flag of people who fall in the low income bracket.

w. You mean that the largest of population on food stamps is here

in Puerto Rico

m. Yes, ten per cent of the whole program is here in Puerto Rico.

And there is no doubt that this has been a big help. IT has subsidized

the, the low wages. Now we talk about minimums and the minimums in

Puerto Rico other than the Union shops is the minimum in the states

ahe minimum even the unorganized areas, generally is not the minimum

The PuertoRican workers, even today working, most families qualify

for food stamps so this certainly allows them some spending money

for other items since their food is assured. Unemployment compensation

on the other hand, is okey, but that you know runs out eventually,

it has a if there is a current closing.

w. I am thinking about unemployment as is () when there are lay offs

and or slowdowns in production and they can collect for one or two

days.

m. sure

w. I gather that has been changed recently

m. Well they just tightened up, dfadpfif several years ago they had

to sort of tighten up the partial unemployment benefits there were

some well obviously some severe drains on the funds and so that

now the workers are only eligible to work less than four days,

if the workers works four ~At p for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611







page 9


but less than five, cannot collect any partial benefits with that systems

w. I thought they had it reduced from 32 to even 24 hours

m. No, no, my understanding at the present time () You know, early June,

in fact it is June 17, 1980, my understanding is that partial benefits

area paid dk nghtTik~P5tkgkjafikjk to workers up through the fourth day of

employment.

w. I see

m. If a worker, if a worker works less than 32 hours they collect partial

w. Oh, I see, do you think that

m. (0) The worker is able to still go home with a normal week's pay

as a result of partial unemployment benefits, and then a combination


of food stamps

w. Because the

plant slowdown

to be a rather

m. The problem

mini depression

North was that

aspects of the


is very helpful.

problem here is not just been plant shut down, but

and partial lay offs. Particularly right now it seems

a slump in garment industry.

is, this is not the first time that a recession, or a

has affected Puerto Rico, but my experience of the

the worker was a little more adjusted t the seasonal

industry. In puerto rico, some workers are acostumed


to it, but not particularly in the garment industry they tend to panic,

when, when things get a little slow and they wander what may happen.

But if they adjust to that I I () have to assume after several weeks

when the shop doesnfit shut down.

w. Are you antificpating any plant shut downs or slow downs in production

here

m. No, no, but in this industry one can never tell they are at the

mercy of the man, the buyers, department stores. When I read that J.C.

Penny has had some problems, and Sears Roebuck has had some serious
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611







page 10 /u



problems. I anticipate that some of our manufacturers are going to

get hurt. I read in the New York times that the thee biggies have

had some serious problems in retail sales So I think that will

have some chain reaction, we did have a manufacturer here in Puerto

Rico who made men's pajamas and men's shorts and for years dfadfa they

were I understand the majority of their production and they worked

800 people in PUerto Rico and finally sold to JC Pennys. Several years

ago JC Penny's said that unless you can match the price that we pay in

Taiwan we are going to have to face you out over the next couple of

years. () and that is just what happened, Howard manufacturing was

forced to open shop in Nicaragua and in Honduras in order to maintain

some relationship with J.C. Penneys still not matching the Taiwan price

I am told. But somewhat much less than the Puerto Rican Price. So now

they have gone down from 800 people in Puerto Rico to a little less than

200 people. That company before 1980 is over may go out of business.

w. I see

m. But again, one must understand that they had this old Puertorican

operation complex and as soon as J. C. Pennies. AS soon s as J.C. Pennys

decided to buy their pajamas and shorts from Taiwan, How could Puerto

Rico compete with Taiwas? Reduce our wages to 50 cents a day.

w. Now, some have even argued that a () I read it in the states, because

I am particularly referring to the states, that garment manufacturers

shouldn't stay in the United States, you know that we should only do electronics

adn more highly sofisticated technological highly payin jobs, There's been

a trend in Puerto Rico I think too, that the women go for example into

the pharmaceutical industry or into electronics that pay a bit higher.

But it still seems to me that doesn't meet the needs of all workers.

Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 11


m. No, I don't see where it will meet the needs of all workers. Unless
in your electronic assembly d units () they concentrate in labor intensified

ah, you know work. The pharmaceutical do not employ that many people

p er plant. The attractive thing about the pharmaceutical people in

Puerto Rico was firf the initial investment, the capital investment

I understand is tremendous. And that makes everyone happy, bankers, the

money handle, A garment fabric will employ 500 people, the capital

investment is miniscule compared to that then the profit, the mark up

of pharmaceuticals is just incredible. Ah, I was told for instance

that one company had a profit in excess of $200 million in one year,

w. Here in Puerto Rico

m. Which is obscene. But again, some of the products that are

manufptured obviously command a high price in the market, the pharmaceutical

market and therefore the tax exemption program becomes a real attractive

tool for pharmaceutical people.

w. Nevertheless I think the garment industry has been a mainstay a

operation bootstrap as it was instituted.

m. Well I think it certainly filled the need to employ a great many

people The sad thing of course in Puerto Rico is that the majority,

I am only guessing, but I would say that the majority of workers in

the manufacturing industry in Puerto Rico overwhelming majority are

women.

w. Mhm, in almost, irregardles of the garments, not just in garment

m. Yes, all manufacturing. We've had the problem, I presume that it is

similar in some parts of the United States, where it is, I recall up

in ew New England, () Massachusseetts and Scrampton Pensylvania,

again women were the backbone of the economy, because they were the

ones who were employed in the aparel industry and there were no jobs for men
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611









page 12


w. nd that was true in the states as well

m Yes, I found that to be true in Forwars, in Massachussets, and New

and Scranton

w. In Scranton even with the coal industry

m. Well, the coal industry died, but again the women were the mainstay

of the family economy. It might have changed, you know, I Have been out of

that area 16 years, but I am going back. I went to Scrampton in 1969, I left

in 65, but I know that in that period of time that the unemployment (0 was

very high.

w. YOu think the fact of dealing with women in the union makes a difference

in the aydkg l IOG. Is it harder to axgax unionize women as most people

say?

m. It is difficult to organize. In Puerto Rico I would say that women are

More concern about the possibility of having their income affected as a

result of an organization campaign. The fear of the threat the rumor of

fear of the factual adfiaef close I think bothers women more so than

\with men.

w. Why would you think this is true?

Sm. I think that the women probably have more concern about the the welfare

of the family. That the men look at it from a narrow point of view, they

are angry at the time they are upset about their working conditions, they

are not concerned. Getting women to strike is a little bit more difficult

than getting men to strike.

w. They khEm tend to be more conservative because they are more concerned

about their families' welfare.

m. I think that describes it.

w. Do you think that those are women perhaps more suited for factory work
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 13



more disciplined, more...

m. Well, I believe, in my experience in Puerto Rico I would say that the

serious problem in labor management relations have to do with men more so

than women, more so than women. But women get to go to work and spend as

pleasant a day as possible and get home with the family. Men on the other

hand, for whatever reasons, cultural () or how you do, tend to get involved

with more serious problems so far as discharge, conduct, refusing, insubordination

acts of insubordination

w. Yeah we notice also that several of the delegates and two of the

plants Nfxthk that we visited were men even though the majority of the

workers in the plant were women

m. Well that's in that those are the rare instances by the way of all the

shops organized. Its a rarity that we have men who become the shop shipers

unless the shop for instance has all coats.

w. of course because they are primarily men

m. butin one or two shops that we have and again I think that that it it

is the cultural element there. To become a shop chief the person menas

that at times you are going to have to desagree with management. And, and

disagree in Puerto Rico, it it.

w. Do you think it is harder for a woman than for a man

m. Its a distatesful thing, even, even with men. No one wants to disagree

with the other individual because friendship seems to cease. So that in

that particular instance I presume that we found that a, a man has the ability

to press himself, no worried about offending the authority by disagreeing

sith them.

w. I see

m. But it is really the exception rather than the rule. Most, most of our
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611







page 14

Parts of this tape have been erased, or were never recorded on before.)

m. going to the universities
w. Oh I don't think that is the problem. I guess the problem would be who

would contribute to the cause of maintaining such a

m. The cost. I guess with () with these federal monies available, I would

hope that ouot of the tax exemption pxagxam profit program that a a very

small contribution from those profits would makesuch facilities available.

w. From the industry itself.

m. From the industry itself because they are the ones that constantly cry

about absenteeism and they cry about the fact that women do miss you know

absent themselves from their job because of the child care problem

,now and then. I say that the solution is, they have the solution.

w. Do you think the union could contribute something to towards...

m. No, I don't think it is the function of the union to contribute money

to a care facility. That certainly is the responsibility of management.

They want to eliminate or reduce absentiism which is attributable to

K child care problems and they ought to take steps to correct it

w. So you don't feel that it is a responsibility of the union.

m. No, Well you say responsibility

w. I don't know whether there are...

m. I Not from a point of donating, you know support it. We would certainly

endeavor to support management in seeking federal funds. Whatherver other

steps that would be necessary. Except that we don't think that it is

the responsibility of the union or the worker to set up a facility to

correct a problem that management says exist. Obviously it doesn't exist

to the point where they are prepared to underwrite the cost of solving

that problem.

w. What would you say were the major improvements that the IOG has

instituted for its members? Here is Puerto Rico?
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611


tc(







page 15


m. Well, I think that we have a rather comprehensive family medical program,

we've been able to accomplish this again becuae of the understanding of

the employers. This is in whole supported by employer contributions where

an employee and members of the employee's family have available to them

the best medical facilities available in their communities. at no cost

whatsoever to the member which includes out patient care, maternity care

right to through the entire spectrum of medical facilities. Some communities

have more adequate medical facilities than others, but whatever is

available what is best available is paid for by the fund (0 ) of the

manufacturer () I would say in the 16 years plus that I've been here that

that has been one of our greatest accomplishments.

w. I see

m. Moving from a very limited program to a complete prepaid family medical

program. But it doesn not include any dental benefits that't about...one

of the few restrictions. But there is an eyeglass benefit every two years.

w. What about for older workers when they retire? Are they still covered

mx by the medical plan.

w. No, one of the rules of the fund to be eligible you must be a covered

worker and yu must be employed, and the employer makes the contributions

Sfor you to the fund.

w. I see, so once they are retired they are not covered.

m. We feel now that there are other you know government facilities available.

for them, you know medicaid, medicare.

w. Has anything been done about retired workers here in Puerto Rico, Have

there been any force about?You mentioned that there had been 1,500workers

m. Oh we have, we have endeavored to get them interested, we have a retiree

club. It generally functions here in the metropolitan area. It is

Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 16


difficult to find someone who will take hold of that activity but we would

hope that sometime in the future in () Arrecibo, here like I said we have

one in the metropolitan area. They meet if not once a month, then every

other month. They got together and they took a trip to mexico. They

took a cruise, ah, they had a cruise, a Caribbean cruise. They are now

talking about an island tour, ah, you know a tour of Puerto Rico, plus

stay overnight at some of the historical landmarks.

w. There has never been any talk about a retirement house say a comparable

unity house in, in the mainland.

m. No resort in a sense, but KM what our union has...

w. or the Telsey (?) development?

m. No but we are very active in and we are a rpime moover in what they

call the Fundacion de Hogares that some years ago, 15 years ago, the

Puerto rican government passed a law and with matching fundsestablished

this housing foundation. Ah, they made land available to this foundation

at very low cost. On this land low income house was constructed and made

available to workers. There were several high rise projects built with

federal money that this housing foundation..and this must be again be

identified as a union organization

w. Are there, is there housing specifically for union members

m. Not for union members but it is for the elderly or the handicapped.
.L --~ -- ..........
And with the housing foundation being sponsored first choices are

usually given to union workers, retired union members of present

employers. And there are several high rise units

w. so they do have some preference

m. Yes, there are several hgih rise units that are probably 90 per cent

occupied by retirees. Not all IOG retirees, but it is a retiree community
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 17


w. I see, are there any units of that kind, any housing of that kind

in the Mayaguez
or Ponze area

m. No, there is land available, but it is a matter of getting a sponsor

you know, for that, But we are looking into that. We presently have a

project before for consideration for a high rise unit here in the

metropolitan area.

w. I see, what would you say then closing that would be the major problem

that the union and the garment industryis facing in Puerto Rico today.

m. I guess survival over the next 10 years. What can be done to protect

at least some part of the garment industry I am concerned. This might

be on the sidee, but in conjunction with our medical program people are

applying for disability under social security or disability of the

state. We seem to be taking in more problems with the back and the

spine but concerns me that people may put 10 20 years in the industry and

as a result of improper posture at their place of work develop a condition

after leaving the industry and then finding it impossible to identify

Sthe cause of the problem. As a result we here are keeping literally tons

of medical records on file so that when a worker makes such an appeal

on an application we are able to pull out the file and perhaps establish

that as an employee of a particular company she did report to one o6 the

dispensaries or hospitals complaining of a problem in the area of the back

w. So that she might still be entitled to worker's compensation

m. Which will help her perhaps in her claims for disability benefits

from social security or if need be with a state insurance company.

But looking down on the long road I think that the import of the problem

imports of apparel overlook, and rea-ly still overlook to a great degree.

Not overlook I think that they haven't given it the attention that it
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 18,


requires. And it eventually is going to catch up with us. And we

have bee n screaming in Congress and to our International President

S ltzy Shaken, (?) of the Union offices have appeared before the senate

before the congress tryint to convince them that they've got to do something.

We never get the publicity the headlines that the outoworkers get,

that the steel workers get.

m. That's true, which also employ men

w. Which employ men, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of

workers in the united states and I guess include Puerto Rico who at one

time were apaprel workers and are unemployed at the present time eaves-

because of imports. And I...I don't know what the solution is. I can only

quote a former candidate for the President of the United States who was

the () senator McGovern profesized in one of his public addresses after

his defeat, I believe it was in Oxford University, he said that the

United States in the 80's mid eighties have better adjust its economy to

support an unemployment role of 16 per cent. That we had better prepare

ourselves to feed them, clothe them, house them, and give them appropriate

recreation. Because we are exporting our labor intensified industries to

developing nations.

w. That seems to be very true and I thank you very much. And are there

any other suggestions that you would like to make now.

m. No, I have one, I have, a project going in Puerto Rico I am trying

to convince the present governor that they should establish a severance

fund for workers displacement fund and the income for that fund should

# come from a special tax again on those employers who enjoy tax exemption

Sso that if and when a tax exempt company decides to leave Puerto Rico

for whatever reason, but the workers would receive some lump sum payments
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 19


to carry them over the period of adjustment.

w. There is such a payment now in the United States. Does that, Doesn't

apply over to Puerto Rico

m. What kind of payment?

w. There is a pyament, that if a plant closes due to imports, the workers

can present a class action to the department of labor, or through the

department of commerce

m. No, that's what they call track, trade assistance

w. that's right, that's right

m. Trade assistance applies in Puerto Rico. This just supplements your

unemployment benefits by 20 per cent more

w. the trader

m. by 20 per cent more

w. the trade assistance

m. You get that in a lump sum only because it is accumulated, for instance

you would collect your unemployment compensation for as long as you were

eligible. But if you were established that the employer closed because

of imports then you will be entitled up to 70 per cent of your benefit.

The rule of thumb basically is 50 per cent of your salary as your

unemployment benefit you now have the difference of 20 percent coming

to you. We've collected that in Puerto Rico for some of our workers...

w.- Oh, you have.

m. But I am looking for a lump xama sum payment directly attributable

to the employer in Puerto Rico who emjoys tax exemption in his profits.

So that when he leaves Puerto Rico, repatriating all of this money (0

tollgate tax of 5 per cent. I like to see that on a regular basis

contribution be made to a fund so that the employees would get some lump
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 20


sum payment for the years...I have yet to been able to convince the

administration I paxxripi participated in a special committee to revise

the tax exemption law and I was unsuccessful in convincing them Mf at

that time that that revision should be included. But we won't give up

the...

w. This seems to be a particular problem, now that you mention it,

again for older workers, say who have put 15 years in, working in the

industry The plant aidfhadfsAdf closese, if they can't find another

job they are also not eligible to the retirement fund even through they

may be only a few short years away for retirement.

m.qThey would be entitled to some benefits under the Besting(?) law.

There is a new () some years ago a new law was enacted in congress and

very wisely, justly so to protect workers who put in a number of years.

So where they wouldn't be entitled to the full benefits at the age

of 65 they would receive some credits for the number of years that

they did work for an employer even though he went out of business

so we, we, we presently have some members who are collecting benefits

under the Besting law. They are not collecting the full benefits,

but they are collecting a partial benefit.

w. those are benefits from the government or the union retirement

m. from the union, from the union

w. from the union

m. this is on top of, of the social security

w. right, but if I thought that a union member can only collect retirement

benefits if he or she had worked for the union for 20 years. Suppose

a worker cannot, you know, cannot find work and has had 15 years or 18 years.

m. That was true some years ago, that you had to have 20 years, plus
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page21

the age, 62 or 65. Then we have what we call disability-retirement. All

you need is one year and there is no limit on age. And then there is what

they call the partial, retirement or-'ested retirement, where a worker is

Saxatitxai eligible for some retirement benefit at the age of 62 or 65

even though they had left the industry prior to reaching the age, but

had accumulated a number of years that were less than 20

w. Is there a minimum number of years that they would have had to have

work

Sm. 10, I believe

w. 10 I see
retirement
m. I can send you (0 some detailed information on this xxi program.

But the employers contribute to it. By the way there is a special

meeting to consider some action concerning, or regarding a proposed

increase in the retirement benefits to the members. The employers

resisted you know the eh, retirement fund is governed by trustees an equal

amount of employers being trustees and they determine what the benefits shall

be. And the union has recommended an increase in the benefits we've made

several suggestions mhthe employers have resisted this. They got some

outside actuaries who support their claim, we have to put the matter

before an impartial chair man and I don't know what the decision is

but...I guess that is confidential until the trustees are given the

information. What the union is endeavoring to do is increase, an across

the board increase for all retirees, presently retired and then increase

the base for new retirees. That means of course that to satisfy the

w. What would that be increases, pressently it is a hundred a month, no?

m. We are presently paying $100 a month for regular reretees and I

hope to increase that and then they say that will just increase at the

present benefits increase, Allof the present receive 100 dollars
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611








page 22



throughout retirement. Or even receiving less than 100 dollars, give

them an increase. Remembeber, then to all future retirees, increase the

base. Soo...and...we hope to get that resolved. But again as I pointed out

to you the decision on...on benefitshas to be made jointed by employers

and union trustees and because of the disagreement an impartial chairman

makes the decision. Because if there is a need to meet the actuarial

requirements you need more money, the employers are going to have to

contribute more money into the fund. So it is understandable that

they may be reluctant to agree on increases if that means they are

going to have to pay more

w. Well thank you very much

m. Thank you, my pleasure.

































Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida 319 Linton E. Grinter Hall Gainesville, Florida 32611




University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs