AFTER two years of protracted negotiations, faculty members are set to get an P18-million windfall along with a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the University that may be concluded this July, aside from higher salaries, adjusted benefits, and the customary signing bonus.

Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P. told the Varsitarian he is optimistic that a new five-year CBA with the faculty – which spells out terms and conditions of employment including working hours, salaries, and a grievance mechanism – will be signed soon although there are still contentious issues that must be resolved such as early retirement and hospitalization benefits.

Approving the P18-million pay-out to the University’s 1,500-strong teaching force – representing money from tuition increases that went to coaches’ salaries in the past five years – was the new Rector’s first major decision upon getting his official appointment from the Vatican last May.

The UST Faculty Union (USTFU) demanded that the amount be awarded to faculty members after learning that the University’s Manpower Committee had decided that coaches should not be treated as faculty members, but as consultants.

Under a two-decade-old law regulating private schools, 70 percent of additional collections from tuition increases must go to salaries and benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel, while 20 percent must be allotted for improvements in school facilities.

The University’s Economic Council had wanted the change in the coaches’ status applied prospectively, not retroactively, sparking a row with the union headed by Dr. Gil Gamilla.

Union officials were said to be planning a boycott of De la Rosa’s installation last June 10 because of the dispute, but the new rector, who took over only last September, decided to give in.

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The new faculty CBA is already two years late as the previous agreement expired on May 31, 2006.

The P18 million will be given in two installments, half after the new CBA is ratified and the other half in December.

“We are giving them the P18 million, but our decision to give it is not because we accept liability but simply to protect the credibility of the management panel,” De la Rosa told the Varsitarian.

The Rector said the CBA negotiations could be finished this month, but the University administration is opposing the faculty union’s proposal of early retirement for those who have rendered five years of service, instead of the required 10 years.

“Giving the benefits after five years is too much because remember, to be tenured, you need three years. So, in effect, you will only have to work for two years to get your benefits,” De la Rosa explained. “We are not agreeing to that although negotiations are still ongoing.”

But USTFU board member Gil Garcia, the union spokesman, pointed out that early retirement pay after five years of service is already being given to faculty members “through the magnanimity of the University.”

“The University is implementing the early retirement benefits to academic personnel who have completed five years of work. We only want to document it in the revised CBA,” Garcia said.

The Rector said: “We are in constant communication with the president of the union.”

Garcia confirmed that the dialogue between the administration and the union is still on.

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“The P18 million would be given back upon approval of the revised CBA,” Garcia said.

Faculty members have also been told that the signing bonus for the new CBA could amount to P30,000, double the P15,000 bonus under the 2001-2006 agreement. Aura Marie P. Dagcutan and Prinz P. Magtulis with reports from Paul Nicholas Dimerin

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