Union chief has lost ‘majority’s mandate,’ say critics as calls for resignation mount

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CALLS for the resignation of the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) leadership are growing amid tensions over the forfeiture of P55 million in the faculty’s share in the tuition increase from Academic Years 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016 and plans to amend the union’s constitution and by-laws.

In a statement in reply to USTFU President George Lim’s letter to faculty members, the “Reform the Union Movement” said union members were losing confidence in Lim’s leadership after he supposedly 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.

READ: Faculty union execs, UST admin agree to split P81.8M in tuition hikes

Lim has also lost the majority’s mandate after plans for a charter change were foiled because of the lack of the required two-thirds or 842 votes, critics claimed.

“We agree with Dr. Lim that the minority who voted for the new Constitution and By-Laws share his vision, but we argue in the same way that the majority of the faculty does not share his vision anymore. Without such mandate from the majority, to resign is a noble thing to do. With such ‘delicadeza’, let him vacate his office,” the statement read.

The general assembly held last Oct. 13 was supposed to tackle amendments to the USTFU constitution and by-laws to allow union officials to handpick negotiators for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with UST, among other proposals which former union vice president Rene Tadle and other union critics, such as Arts and Letters Faculty Association President Danielito Jimenez, are also opposing. A CBA is an agreement between employees and their employer over terms and conditions of work.

Questions over the faculty’s share in the tuition increases under the renegotiated CBA for 2011-2016, however, derailed the discussions. As a result, only 465 voted in favor on the amendments, 365 voted against and 424 members chose not to vote or were not able to vote.

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

Critics pointed to the illegitimacy of the members of the USTFU negotiating panel who were mostly appointed by union leaders, instead of elected as required by the union charter.

“The incumbent USTFU Panel is composed of illegitimate members. [M]ajority of the negotiators, including Dr. Lim, were not elected but were appointed by the board instead. [T]hus, the ‘ratified’ CBA renegotiated economic benefits may be deemed invalid since the majority of the Union negotiators were not lawful representatives of the general faculty,” the statement said.

“As a doctor, let the hospital be his office; the union office belongs to a dedicated labor leader who works for the interest of his co-faculty –not through the rear door,” critics added.

 

Avoiding legal accountability?

Lim’s warning of “legal implications” for USTFU members supporting a signature drive calling for the resignation of union officials sounded more of a threat rather than a warning to avoid legal responsibility, critics said.

“Dr. Lim’s piece of advice sounds more of as a threat (legal accountability) than a friendly advice. [His] “threatening piece of advice” is intended to avoid any legal accountability which he and his panel may meet once the signature campaign succeeds,” the statement read.

Lawyer Danielito Jimenez, president of the Arts and Letters Faculty Association, said it was high time for Lim to step down from office to prevent further damage to the interest of the faculty.

“In other situations, “delicadeza” may come into play and dictate that once there is a loss of confidence or if moral leadership to govern is lost, those responsible should make the ultimate sacrifice to step down to spare the organization from further damage. Rather than respond with a so called “legal implications”, it is best to listen,” Jimenez told the Varsitarian in an online interview last Nov. 9.

Jimenez downplayed threats of a libel suit, saying the call for resignation of union officials was “not a personal attack on their character as individuals.”

“With all due respect to the members of the panel and its head, especially those who were not even elected, the call for their resignation is not a personal attack on their character as individuals. The call is an objective appeal to step down as many felt they failed in their mandate,” he added.

A signature campaign calling on USTFU officials to resign has been circulating following the distribution in October of tuition hikes collected for Academic Years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 under the renegotiated CBA.

As of writing, the number of signatories has reached more than 300 faculty members, which includes lawyers from different faculties and colleges, a source told the Varsitarian.

“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,” Lim said in his letter to USTFU members in October.

“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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