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MORALES: DON'T TAMPER WITH TOBACCO MONEY

The head of the Central Labor Council has protested any attempts to prevent unionized government employees from getting half of the territory's tobacco-suit settlement for back wages.
Luis "Tito" Morales threatened to "shut this government down" if the Legislature tampers with the agreed-upon formula for distributing the tobacco-settlement funds, the V.I. Independent reported Tuesday.
The 22nd Legislature passed a law directing that 50 percent of any tobacco settlement go into the Union Arbitration Fund for retroactive salary increases and the other 50 percent go into the Hospital Revolving Fund to be divided between the territory's two hospitals.
Attorney General Iver A. Stridiron, in announcing last week that the settlement could total $50 million paid over 25 years, lamented that distribution and said all the funds should go toward health care and related programs.
Morales told the Independent, "It seems that every time there is money made available through a windfall, and the settlement is a windfall, they don't want to pay the government workers their retroactive pay. We're not asking for all of it. We just want to see the employees get the money they're owed."
The V.I. government owes unionized employees an estimated $200 million in back wages. Morales said the issue won't go away and must be addressed.

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The head of the Central Labor Council has protested any attempts to prevent unionized government employees from getting half of the territory's tobacco-suit settlement for back wages.
Luis "Tito" Morales threatened to "shut this government down" if the Legislature tampers with the agreed-upon formula for distributing the tobacco-settlement funds, the V.I. Independent reported Tuesday.
The 22nd Legislature passed a law directing that 50 percent of any tobacco settlement go into the Union Arbitration Fund for retroactive salary increases and the other 50 percent go into the Hospital Revolving Fund to be divided between the territory's two hospitals.
Attorney General Iver A. Stridiron, in announcing last week that the settlement could total $50 million paid over 25 years, lamented that distribution and said all the funds should go toward health care and related programs.
Morales told the Independent, "It seems that every time there is money made available through a windfall, and the settlement is a windfall, they don't want to pay the government workers their retroactive pay. We're not asking for all of it. We just want to see the employees get the money they're owed."
The V.I. government owes unionized employees an estimated $200 million in back wages. Morales said the issue won't go away and must be addressed.