Signature drive launched vs USTFU execs, union chief warns of ‘legal implications’

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A SIGNATURE campaign calling on UST Faculty Union (USTFU) officials to resign has been launched, after a tumultuous general assembly last month in which critics questioned the outcome of the recent renegotiation of economic benefits under the faculty’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the University administration.

Calls for the resignation of USTFU officials led by Dr. George Lim began after the distribution in October of tuition hikes collected for Academic Years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 under the renegotiated CBA, an agreement on terms and conditions of employment.

During the general assembly last Oct. 13, USTFU critics led by former union vice president Rene Luis Tadle questioned why union officials agreed to allow the UST administration to deduct P55 million from P81.8 million in tuition hike collections, to pay for incentives to higher-ranked professors whose loads were reduced because of the K to 12 transition.

By law, 70 percent of tuition hikes must go to salary and other benefits of all faculty members. Thus, the three-unit incentive should have been shouldered by the administration.

Charging the incentive to the 70-percent share of tuition hikes deprived other faculty members and non-teaching academic staff of their rightful salary adjustments, critics alleged.

Charter change foiled

The assembly was supposed to tackle amendments to the USTFU constitution and by-laws to allow union officials to handpick CBA negotiators, among other proposals which Tadle and other union critics are also opposing.

Questions over the CBA renegotiation, however, derailed the discussions. As a result, only 465 voted in favor, 365 voted against and 424 members chose not to vote or were not able to vote. Two-thirds or 842 votes were required to amend the union’s constitution and by-laws.

In a letter addressed to USTFU members, Lim lashed out at those who derailed the discussions on his proposed amendments.

“In our desire to provide some of our members the opportunity to voice their sentiments we firsthand witnessed a well-planned, orchestrated move to disrupt our proceedings and derail the discussion of our proposed 2017 USTFU Constitution and By-laws,” Lim said in his letter.

Tadle called Lim’s proposed amendments “self-serving,” and said the changes would make the union less democratic.

“The Lim-sponsored amendment gives more power to USTFU officers to the point that they can expel any member of the union as member of USTFU without even providing an appeal to the general membership,” Tadle told the Varsitarian in an online interview last Nov. 1.

The amendments would have also authorized the USTFU leadership to expel a member from the union and recommend the termination of his or her employment in the University.

“This is very damning to the USTFU leadership because before, they were able to get 92 percent of the faculty members to ratify the renegotiated CBA while 8 percent rejected the CBA. That is why my contention was that he must be living in another universe when he asserted that the majority of those who voted shared his views. The truth of the matter is that almost two-thirds of the members, and it could have been more, did not share whatever vision he had,” he added.

‘Please be more cautious’

Lim warned of “legal implications” for USTFU members supporting the signature campaign calling for the resignation of some union officials.

“It has come to our attention that nameless “concerned” faculty members have been circulating unsigned/anonymous letters soliciting your signatures calling for the resignation of some Union officers the basis of which we find baseless and malicious,” he said.

“Please be more cautious and circumspect before you affix your signatures on any of those documents as your act includes accountability for it along with any legal implications it may have to you and to other USTFU Officers, Directors and members,” he added.

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