Once again, the Governor has vetoed obligations to the unions he has verbally approved to individuals. I came to work here for the USVI Government in 1990 for a salary way below my earning capacity when I needed to seek a less stressful life-style and to try to be of help. I helped form the Association of Hospital Employed Physicians, AHEP, and under Governor Farrelly, we negotiated a contract that led to a raise for physicians in the territory but was never implemented after the first raise.
I and many physicians and loyal hospital employees, many now out of the picture, retired/gone/dead, also spent thousands of unpaid hours getting the St. Croix Hospital accredited by the Joint Commission which has brought millions of dollars into the territory.
No cost of living/step pay increases. No continuing education pay. No adherence to any of the subsequent negotiations to improve the ability to attract new physicians since 1991. Three contracts negotiated. Three Governors, one a physician, lied to all the physicians in the territory for over a decade.
Our current Governor, a fellow Doctor from the University of Minnesota, happy to once be in a blizzard, shook my hand a couple of days before his re-election and sealed his commitment to honor our contract. Today, over two years later, he still is ignoring us and all the other unions by telling us he was relying on the EDC program all these years, since 1991, to meet the government's obligations to his employees.
We are in real trouble, folks. Our government gets about a billion bucks a year from our taxes and fed grants. Amounts to close to ten grand per man, woman and child. Are you seeing any of that?
I'm seeing feces flowing into the Christiansted Harbor, a million gallons a day or so. The stink too bad to visit the board walk or eat on the waterfront. I'm seeing kids shot in the streets in the dead town of Christiansted. I'm seeing Strand Street torn up with one guy in a hard hat sleeping under a palm tree, businesses closed. I'm seeing kids having babies – half the babies born on St. Croix have mothers, unmarried under 18, fathers often relatives. I'm seeing seniors with no where to live but the Gov. J. F. Luis Hospital while sick people lie in the emergency room for days because there are no rooms upstairs.
I'm seeing St. Thomas with a clean Harbor, shops making millions, six cruise ships a day, building a linear accelerator to treat cancer patients poor people from St. Croix will not be able to access. I'm seeing St. Thomas with a real nursing home, Sea View, subsidized by MAP funds. I'm seeing St. Croix with Herbert Grigg Home For the Aged, lying fallow. No money for staff or supplies.
I see real injustice. I see a need for St. Croix to rebel or continue to die.
My name is among the 5,000 St. Croix voters who signed a petition for autonomy and helped to vote for a change in six senators.
I encourage the rest of the Cruzans to join the battle to save our island.
R.L. Bucher, M.D.
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