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Senate Says Workers Will Get Raises

July 13, 2004 — On Tuesday, the 25th Legislature overrode the governor's veto of a bill that would provide raises for unionized workers.
With a 12-2 vote the motion became law. Sens. Douglas Canton Jr., Roosevelt David, Carlton Dowe, Emmett Hansen II, Louis Hill, Norman Jn Baptiste, David Jones, Almando Liburd, Shawn-Michael Malone, Luther Renee, Ronald Russell and Celestino White voted in favor of the override. Sens. Lorraine Berry and Adlah Donastorg voted against the measure and Sen. Usie Richards abstained.
The measure provides $9 million to pay negotiated contract wages of unionized employees. Gov. Charles Turnbull had vetoed the measure, which the Senate had included in the 2004 supplemental budget. See Latest Proposal to Put Raises on Hold Not Likely to Fly
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the United Steel Workers Union, said he had expected the override. Morales added that the government should be able to sustain those pay raises.
"Revenue in the territory has increased from last year by 36 percent," Morales said. "How can they say they can't sustain those raises?"
The senators also succeeded in overriding several other vetoes by the governor.
The director of the Office of Management and Budget is now prevented from withholding, reducing or otherwise altering the operating budgets or any appropriations to the legislature or the courts. The governor's veto of that law was overridden.
Senators also overrode the veto of a measure that would establish a Donated Leave Program, allowing employees to donate unused sick leave, and the veto of a bill that appropriated money from the Land Bank Fund for the purchase and preservation of properties on Vessup and Muller Bay beaches.
Members of the Red Hook Community Alliance, sitting in the audience, cheered, as the bill became law. The group has been fighting for the past 10 months for the preservation of the Vessup Beach area.
The Vessup Beach override passed with a 10-2 vote. Sens. Berry, Canton, David, Dowe, Donastorg, Hansen, Hill, Liburd, Russell and White voted for the override.
Sens. Jones and Malone voted against. Sens. Baptiste and Richards abstained, and Sen. Renee was absent for the vote.
"I'm extremely grateful that the senators of the 25th Legislature voted on the side of preservation," Hill said.
Senators also approved the nominations of Yvette Canegata-Jones to the Public Services Commission, Tyrone Seales to the Coastal Zone Management Commission, Kevin Rodriquez to the Division of Personnel and Merwin Potter to the V.I. Fire Services.
All senators were present at the session.
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