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Many teachers on the island had to hold second jobs, especially those trying to support families. Photo: Getty Images

Teachers in Puerto Rico win salary increase after protesting in San Juan

The current salary of $1,750 a month is something many say is difficult to live on, requiring many to get second and third jobs.

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Public school teachers in Puerto Rico will receive a temporary increase in their monthly salaries of $1,000. 

On Monday, Feb. 7, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the pay raise will begin in July. The increase comes days after 70% of the island’s public school teachers joined protests for higher salaries, better pensions and better work conditions. 

Víctor Bonilla, president of the Puerto Rico Teachers’ Association, told The Associated Press that it’s a moment that teachers have been waiting on for years. 

The association represents around 25,000 teachers.

Teachers on the island currently make a base salary of $1,750 a month, which many say is difficult to live off of. 

This number hasn’t moved in years. Some teachers praised last week’s announcement, but union leaders pointed out that they are still seeking a base salary of $3,500 a month. 

Giovanna Ostolaza, an 8th and 9th grade English teacher at a school in San Juan, told ABC News that a teacher’s salary is hard to live on, particularly for those who have families. She also expressed concern that Pierluisi might not follow through with his promise to make the increase permanent. 

“They have to prioritize education. These are people essential to society,” Ostolaza said. 

Joalice Santiago, a 4th and 5th grade Spanish and Science teacher, told NBC News that her and her fellow teachers are tired of not being acknowledged. 

Santiago tutors after school to improve her salary and said that many other teachers are doing the same, often working two or more jobs to make ends meet. 

She also noted that many teachers on the island are forced to paint their own classrooms or obtain fans as the government does not provide adequate resources.

Pierluisi said his administration respects the right to freedom of expression and promised to continue working on securing higher increases for all public servants. 

“This fight has not ended. Our students more than ever need the guarantee of adequate face-to-face education, and for this, they need their teachers in the classroom,” he said.

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