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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 29, 2022


The territory’s top union leader has accepted Gov. Charles Turnbull's latest invitation to hash out the retroactive pay dilemma, even though he blasted the governor's past efforts to solve the $200 million issue as ineffective.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, said past meetings were "long on talk but short on action." Nevertheless, he told the governor in a letter Wednesday that union leaders were ready to outline ground rules for another summit meeting.
In his State of the Union address Monday, Turnbull said the government had a "moral obligation" to pay public employees raises negotiated in 1992 and 1993 that have yet to materialize.
"This issue, which has plagued past administrations for too long, can no longer be ignored and allowed to fester," Turnbull said. "The fiscal reality is such that it is extremely unlikely that this community and government can ever afford to pay $200 million in retroactive raises previously negotiated without regard to the means available to pay."
With that, Turnbull called for a summit meeting with representatives of government unions within the next 60 days to discuss compromise proposals. He said his condition for considering any proposal was the inclusion of a specific revenue stream to finance it.
Morales, meanwhile, said union leaders were "puzzled" by the call for the summit because of failed attempts to solve the retro issue in the past. He also noted the CLC submitted a variety of economic proposals to Government House and the Legislature last October that were aimed at generating revenue.
"As of this date, neither you nor any senator has even acknowledged our submission," Morales wrote. "…Therefore, your assertion that any compromise proposal regarding the issue of retroactive wages must include a specific revenue plan to finance it rings hollow."
Morales said the CLC’s proposals are "on the table" and it is now the governor’s turn to come up with ideas.
Despite the severe stance, Morales said CLC members are willing to cooperate with the administration. "After all," he said, "if you fail, we all fail."
As of Friday, Government House had not set a date for the initial labor meeting.

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