WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement after the Puerto Rico Department of Education launched an illegal clawback of teachers’ benefits on the eve of the holidays:
“Just how much can teachers take? They have worked tirelessly to put Puerto Rico’s schools back together after months of chaos for kids. Last year, the Puerto Rico Department of Education closed schools, moved students and teachers around, and then took away the sick leave balances teachers were owed at retirement—all after 10 years of pay freezes with only a modest increase this year.
“Now, in an evident attempt to balance the budget on teachers’ backs, the department claims that teachers owe the government for a decade’s worth of unexcused absences. This claim is unfounded and cruel, and it’s made even worse because it’s coming right before the holidays.
“This dangerous policy is not only immoral but also illegal, and the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico will file a lawsuit on behalf of its members, claiming they are unlawfully being charged for sick days, holidays and parental leave, as well as for time designated for permissible union activities such as voting in union elections.
“It’s time the government of Puerto Rico stands up for the teachers there, who are standing up for kids every day.”