On Friday, May 25, the Puerto Rican Senate approved by voice vote a labor reform bill. The legislation was promoted by leftist parties on the island, specifically by the Movimiento Victoria Ciudadana (MVC).
Curiously, the bill received the support of the traditional parties and was approved with 22 votes in favor, 4 abstentions and only one against. Many senators did not even attend the session to debate the new bill. However, Senator Joanne Rodriguez Veve, who belongs to the conservative party Proyecto Dignidad, harshly criticized the initiative and its promoters and was the only vote against it.
According to the drafters of the bill, the legislation “reverses the damages caused by this (current) 2017 labor reform, following a work plan based on two priority areas: (1) to restore and expand the labor rights applicable to male and female employees belonging to private enterprise and (2) to demand that this Legislative Assembly exercise its investigative power, to inquire into the prevailing employment conditions in Puerto Rico and propose new protections for the benefit of the working class.”
However, Senator Rodríguez Veve intervened for eight minutes and said that this labor reform, in reality, will not solve the workers’ problems and will hurt Puerto Rico’s small and medium-sized businesses.
“House Bill 3, which seeks to amend the labor reform and which was worked on by the labor affairs committee chaired by the spokeswoman of the Citizen Victory Movement, is a bill that will shock the small and medium-sized businesses of the country,” Senator Rodriguez Veve began her speech.
Next, the member of the Proyecto Dignidad party denounced that the discussion of the labor reform was moved forward in the calendar and there were only seven senators in the hemicycle.
“I want the country to see how this is empty (…) the senators are not here to listen to the debate that a discussion like this merits, either because they are for or because they are against. This is simply mind-boggling”.Senator Joanne Rodríguez Veve.
After denouncing the emptiness of the Senate Chamber, Rodriguez Veve began to present her views on the labor reform.
She first argued that House Bill 3 is being submitted for approval only three days after the minimum wage was adopted. The senator explained that, despite having supported the wage increase, this would not have major benefits for workers unless an efficient business climate is created where Puerto Rico can prosper and develop economically; she also explained that the minimum wage increase and the new labor reform together “could be the perfect formula to implode small and medium businesses.”
“The approval of this measure is not only going to represent a simultaneous increase in the labor costs, but also in the operational costs of the companies (…)And I do not know how many colleagues of this hemicycle have had the opportunity to work in the private sector before working as politicians. I don’t know how many of my colleagues in the Chamber have had their own business and know how the operational part operates and the effort it takes to run a business”.
Joanne Rodríguez Veve: Labor reform is not a patriotic measure of the MVC.
For the senator, this bill will not help entrepreneurs and workers, much less the middle class, which is why she labels the bill unpatriotic.
“This measure as it was worked out (…) far from being a patriotic bill which will help the growth of our indigenous economy, the local entrepreneurship we like to talk so much about during election times, what it will really provoke is to continue weakening our own. Particularly the middle class”.
The senator concluded her speech by highlighting that she is in favor of improving workers’ conditions, but that this should not be done “in an improvised way” and neither following a path of leftist economic ideas that have been systematically failing on the planet.
“I believe that there is room to improve our labor order, I believe that we should work calmly to make a labor code that can harmonize all the labor laws that have countless inconsistencies (…) what we cannot do, as we would say colloquially, is to govern in a crazy way. Colleagues, those who are present, populisms have failed everywhere; be careful, that the path to the left does not lead us to the failure of all of us”.Senator Joanne Rodríguez Veve
The left is on the move in Puerto Rico
Currently in Puerto Rico the traditional parties, the New Progressive Party and the Popular Democratic Party, are threatened by the momentum of the left-wing political movement MVC.
Now, despite the fact that MVC is gaining popular strength, there are also parties that are direct competitors and are willing to confront the progressive ideas of Victoria Ciudadana in the cultural arena. This is the case of Proyecto Dignidad, represented by Rodríguez Veve.
In an interview with El American, the senator stated that, “De facto, in Puerto Rico the left is leading the development of public policy through the MVC Party.
According to Rodríguez Veve, “This leftist party, with the support of the populists of the NPP, PDP and PIP, is dangerously establishing a new cultural hegemony that destroys the institutions, ideas and values that until now have characterized us as a country. We see this through their stultified discourses on the concept of “class”, but also in the development of a neo-language in the cultural field, particularly distinguishable through the ideological jargon of Gender Ideology”.
For the senator, the statist economic ideas of MVC “solidify the foundations to make Puerto Rico a country of pawns”.