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HomeNewsArchivesGOVERNOR SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH FEDS

GOVERNOR SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH FEDS

The Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Interior Department and the V.I. government, which has been the subject of much speculation this week, was signed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on Tuesday.
One top labor leader lambasted it Wednesday as "smacking of colonialism."
In a letter Wednesday to Senate President Vargrave Richards, Turnbull said, "I have signed this agreement to ensure the release of the federal funds for Y2K and to obtain assistance from the federal government."
Turnbull said he fully expected Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to sign it as soon as Babbitt received it.
There has been speculation in the community this week about whether the governor had signed the controversial document.
In the legislative session Tuesday, Sen. V. Anne Golden railed against the agreement, saying its terms put Interior in the position of being a de facto control board over the Virgin Islands.
A major part of the agreement calls for the V.I. government to rewrite its public labor relations laws, including Act No. 4440, to conform with the federal public labor relations law by June 30, 2000.
It also mandates:
–– Receipt of a copy of the governor's five-year financial recovery plan within 90 days of signature of the agreement.
–– A 50 percent cut in overtime expenditures from fiscal year 1999.
–– A hiring freeze with limited and "highly scrutinized" exceptions.
–– A 5 percent reduction in payroll costs from fiscal year 1999 baseline costs.
–– An additional 10 percent cut of overall expenditures.
–– A 50-50 cost-sharing of retirement and health-insurance premiums.
–– Elimination of five holidays.
The memorandum states that recurring General Fund deficits to a "significant extent have been aggravated" by local collective bargaining agreements in which Virgin Islands government employees enjoy greater bargaining rights than those enjoyed by federal employees.
A letter from Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, to Turnbull on Wednesday said the agreement "clearly smacks of colonialism."
Morales took particular exception to the 50-50 cost-sharing and the repeal of Act 4440.
"Why should we, as American citizens, tolerate such onerous conditions in order to receive federal assistance when the president of the United States forgives without any conditions, obligations of foreign countries?" Morales asked.
According to sources in Washington, the speculation about whether the agreement had been signed was due to the fact that Babbitt has not yet signed it. Some technical details had to be worked out but Babbitt is expected to sign it.
One source said that even though the document is expected to be fully executed as it stands, there will be further additions.
As has been indicated for months by sources in Washington, federal officials have no plans to create a control board in the Virgin Islands.

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The Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Interior Department and the V.I. government, which has been the subject of much speculation this week, was signed by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on Tuesday.
One top labor leader lambasted it Wednesday as "smacking of colonialism."
In a letter Wednesday to Senate President Vargrave Richards, Turnbull said, "I have signed this agreement to ensure the release of the federal funds for Y2K and to obtain assistance from the federal government."
Turnbull said he fully expected Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to sign it as soon as Babbitt received it.
There has been speculation in the community this week about whether the governor had signed the controversial document.
In the legislative session Tuesday, Sen. V. Anne Golden railed against the agreement, saying its terms put Interior in the position of being a de facto control board over the Virgin Islands.
A major part of the agreement calls for the V.I. government to rewrite its public labor relations laws, including Act No. 4440, to conform with the federal public labor relations law by June 30, 2000.
It also mandates:
–– Receipt of a copy of the governor's five-year financial recovery plan within 90 days of signature of the agreement.
–– A 50 percent cut in overtime expenditures from fiscal year 1999.
–– A hiring freeze with limited and "highly scrutinized" exceptions.
–– A 5 percent reduction in payroll costs from fiscal year 1999 baseline costs.
–– An additional 10 percent cut of overall expenditures.
–– A 50-50 cost-sharing of retirement and health-insurance premiums.
–– Elimination of five holidays.
The memorandum states that recurring General Fund deficits to a "significant extent have been aggravated" by local collective bargaining agreements in which Virgin Islands government employees enjoy greater bargaining rights than those enjoyed by federal employees.
A letter from Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, to Turnbull on Wednesday said the agreement "clearly smacks of colonialism."
Morales took particular exception to the 50-50 cost-sharing and the repeal of Act 4440.
"Why should we, as American citizens, tolerate such onerous conditions in order to receive federal assistance when the president of the United States forgives without any conditions, obligations of foreign countries?" Morales asked.
According to sources in Washington, the speculation about whether the agreement had been signed was due to the fact that Babbitt has not yet signed it. Some technical details had to be worked out but Babbitt is expected to sign it.
One source said that even though the document is expected to be fully executed as it stands, there will be further additions.
As has been indicated for months by sources in Washington, federal officials have no plans to create a control board in the Virgin Islands.