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HomeNewsArchives150 AT MOTORCADE AND RALLY DENOUNCE WAPA DEAL

150 AT MOTORCADE AND RALLY DENOUNCE WAPA DEAL

About 150 employees of the V.I. Water and Power Authority and their families turned out Sunday for a motorcade and rally to denounce a proposed deal between the government and Southern Energy Inc. that would sell 80 percent of the utility's assets.
A 30-car caravan made its way from WAPA's Krum Bay plant to downtown and Anna's Retreat before congregating at the Fort Christian parking lot for the rally. Among those addressing the gathering were union officials, employees, political aspirants and one member of the WAPA governing board.
The motorcade and rally came in response to a stepped-up advertising campaign by Southern on radio and in local newspapers in recent weeks urging legislative support for the deal.
American Federation of Teachers president Glen Smith said the joint venture is equivalent to the biblical story of David and Goliath.
"Remember that David was victorious. It took a small boy, like the employees, to slay the giant, Southern," Smith said, as the crowd chanted, "WAPA is not for sale, we will slay the giant!"
Smith chastised the Turnbull administration for reneging on a campaign promise not to sell WAPA during its term in office.
Gerald Hodge Jr., WAPA mechanic and co-chair of the employees buyout committee, spoke at length of the work with consultants retained by the employees to analyze the joint venture.
Hodge suggested three alternatives to the proposed deal: an employee stock-ownership plan, a restructuring of WAPA as a government entity or the development of an employee cooperative. "WAPA employees don't want it sold, we want to own it," Hodge repeated in his remarks.
Central Labor Council President Luis "Tito" Morales said the fight over WAPA is far from over.
"The fight is in that green building over there," he said, referring to the Legislature building. Asking why no senators were at the rally, he suggested that "the Southern Energy money has gotten to them."
Morales said unions would campaign against any senator who votes for passage of the Southern Energy pact.
Other speakers included WAPA governing board member Claude Molloy, former senator and candidate Celestino White, legislative researcher Angie Hodge-Sheen and activist K. Leba Ola-Niyi. A similar event is being planned on St. Croix, Hodge said at the end of the rally.

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