AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, Puerto Rico, home to 3.5 million U.S. citizens, is still recovering from the devastating effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, which, according to a new study, killed 4,600 people; and

WHEREAS, in March 2018, 150,000 homes and businesses were still without power, and as of this writing in May, thousands were still taking shelter in houses with blue tarps as roofs; the island’s infrastructure remains in pieces; and

WHEREAS, the federal government’s response to these hurricanes was measurably slower than its response to hurricane destruction on the mainland, as repeatedly reported by the mainstream media; and

WHEREAS, for example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved $141 million for individual assistance within nine days of Hurricane Harvey in Houston but only $6 million for Hurricane Maria victims in Puerto Rico; and

WHEREAS, when the hurricanes arrived, Puerto Rico was (and remains) in the midst of an economic crisis driven by predatory hedge funds and U.S. policies, and it still has more than $72 billion worth of debt after a decade-long recession with high unemployment; and

WHEREAS, the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, created by congressional legislation in 2016, has pushed for firing 45,000 public employees, cutting retiree pensions, eliminating some worker protections and lowering the minimum wage to pay back its creditors; and

WHEREAS, despite the May 1 announcement that the United States will provide $589 million in federal aid to help public, charter and private schools in Puerto Rico, Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico’s secretary of education, has pushed through legislation that will reshape its public schools through charter schools and private school vouchers, draining more than $400 million from cash-strapped public schools; and

WHEREAS, within a week of Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signing that legislation, Keleher announced that she will close 283—one-third of the island’s—public schools:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers and our locals across the United States stand in solidarity with the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico-Local Sindical and the people of Puerto Rico as they rebuild Puerto Rico; and

RESOLVED, that our locals and state affiliates will push Congress to provide Puerto Rico, including its public schools, with the resources it needs for the restoration of a vibrant and sustainable society and economy; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and our locals across the United States will stand in solidarity and help lead the fight, along with AMPR-Local Sindical, to fight privatization, school closings, vouchers and the imposition of a cruel and unworkable austerity upon the people of Puerto Rico.



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