Puerto Rico Teachers Will Get A $1,000 A Month Salary Increase After Protest

Puerto Rico’s public school teachers will receive a temporary $1,000 monthly salary increase starting in July, Governor Pedro Pierluisi announced Monday, as he promised to make it permanent.

The desicion came after nearly 70 percent of teachers across Puerto Rico left school and protested their working conditions and wages on Friday, AP reports.

“For years, we’ve truly been waiting for this moment,” said Víctor Bonilla, president of the Puerto Rico Teachers’ Association, which represents some 25,000 teachers.

The base salary of public school teachers in Puerto Rico is $1,750 a month, a number that hasn’t budged in 13 years. While some teachers praised Monday’s announcement, Puerto Rico’s Association of Teachers, is requesting that base salaries increase to $3,500 a month.

Giovanna Ostolaza, who teaches 8th and 9th grade English at a school in the capital of San Juan, said it’s very hard to live on a teacher’s salary, especially for those who have families. She also worried that the governor might not come through on his promise to make the increase permanent.

“They have to prioritize education,” she said. “These are people essential to society.”

Puerto Rico economist José Caraballo-Cueto noted that utilities are nearly 60 percent more expensive in Puerto Rico than the U.S. average, and groceries are 18 percent more expensive. However, healthcare and housing costs, among others, are lower in comparison, according to Puerto Rico’s Institute of Statistics.

Sybaris Morales Paniagua, interim general secretary for the teachers’ association, said they will make sure the increase is made permanent as part of a collective agreement still being negotiated and that they will continue to push for even higher wages. She said in a phone interview that the governor told them he also has identified funds to increase teachers’ defined contribution pension plans.




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