Puerto Rico Telephone Installers Join CWA

CWA's membership in Puerto Rico swelled last month, as dozens more telephone installers voted in favor of union representation.

Eighty-one installers at JAF Communications, a Puerto Rican telecommunications company, cast their ballots on March 16 at the Caguas and Ponce facilities, and the workers prevailed with a majority.

"This constitutes a sum victory for CWA, which now represents all JAF employees in all Puerto Rico areas," said Local 3010 President Rafael Castro-Torres.

With CWA's help JAF installers have been steadily growing the membership of the Unión de Trabajadores de las Communicaciones (UTC/CWA). But in 2009, an attempt to organize this same JAF unit failed.

So this year organizer Lizbenet Vazquez launched new campaign. She vowed to keep it "clean" and never bad mouth JAF management. She gained the trust of installers with weekly visits to Caguas and Ponce. When the company's vice president tried to convince installers — some of whom still don't have health care after working 15 years on the job — that it would provide better pay and benefits, Vazquez was there to tell the truth.

"I told them, 'Remember two years ago he made the same promises and he never kept his word,'" Vazquez said. "And they realized it's true, he never did that."

Jesus Rodriguez, Julio Martinez, Jose Berrios, Luis Diaz, Joel Santiago, Saul Berrios and William Acosta were part of the internal committee.