Despite calling past summit meetings aimed at solving the government’s retroactive pay dilemma ineffective, the territory’s top union leader has accepted the governor’s latest invitation to hash out the issue.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, told the governor in a letter Wednesday that union leaders are ready to outline ground rules for a summit, though he blistered Gov. Charles Turnbull’s efforts to solve the $200 million retroactive pay issue.
In his State of the Territory address Monday, Turnbull said the government has a "moral obligation" to pay public employees raises negotiated in 1992 and 1993 but as of yet are unfulfilled."
"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. The governor’s 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. In addition, he said, the CLC submitted a variety of economic proposals to Government House and the Legislature last October that were aimed at generating revenue.
"We are puzzled because over the years, we have been invited to participate in many summits to deal with this important issue," Morales wrote. "These summits were all long on talk but short on action. As of this date, neither you nor any senator has even acknowledged our submission . . . 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 job to bring ideas to the summit.
Despite that severe stance, Morales said the CLC’s 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 labor summit.


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