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As Puerto Rico Works to Develop New Fiscal Plan, Murray Warns Against Efforts to Weaken Basic Worker Protections; Urges Greater Access to Women’s Reproductive Health Care in Light of Zika

Efforts to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt and implement “PROMESA” take critical step with appointment of new oversight board


In new letter, Murray called on board to ensure basic worker protections, including a minimum wage increase and compliance with new overtime rule


Murray also urged Puerto Rican officials to increase access to health care and resources for women and children impacted by Zika


Murray: “As American citizens, the 3.4 million residents of Puerto Rico deserve the equivalent benefits and protections afforded to residents of the mainland”


(Washington, D.C.) – On Friday, September 9, 2016, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, sent a letter calling on the new Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board, the group tasked with reviewing a new fiscal plan for the island as part of Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (“PROMESA”), to address several immediate and systemic issues facing the nearly 3.4 million Puerto Rican citizens who have been suffering under one of the worst financial crises in memory.


On August 31, 2016, the Obama Administration named the seven members of the new oversight board, which Congress established in PROMESA to help Puerto Rico control its spending and restructure its debt load.


“At a time when the residents of Puerto Rico are experiencing so much economic insecurity, it is critically important to proceed with their best interests in mind,” wrote Senator Murray to the recently appointed oversight board. “I urge you to address Puerto Rico’s debts holistically and work to develop a comprehensive strategy that will address certain systemic…problems. The future of Puerto Rico will depend on not only addressing the problems of the past but ensuring that it becomes a place where people can make a living, see a future for themselves, and thrive.”  


In the letter, Senator Murray expressed her serious concerns regarding provisions in PROMESA that threaten a minimum wage increase, expanded overtime protections, and adequate pension funding for Puerto Rican workers. Senator Murray also urged Puerto Rican officials to increase access to health care and resources for women and children impacted by Zika. The letter outlines specific concerns with:


  • Provisions affecting minimum wage increases, specifically for Puerto Ricans at 25 years old and younger;
  • Possible two-year implementation deferment of the updated rule on overtime;
  • Pension cuts facing government workers who have already paid their fair share into the retirement system; and
  • Significant lack of access to effective long-acting reversible contraceptives, high cost, incomplete insurance coverage, and lack of trained providers to deal with the ongoing Zika virus epidemic.


Full text of the letter is available HERE.