LABOR arbiters have sided with sacked instructors of the College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) in a dispute with the administration over the University’s “no master’s, no teaching load” policy.

In an Oct. 30 decision, the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) said the dismissal of CFAD professors Raymond Son, Raymund Antiola, and Wilfredo Pollarco in 2010 was “illegal.” The ruling granted a motion for reconsideration filed by the dismissed mentors, reversing a March 26 ruling in favor of the University administration.

“As correctly ruled by the Labor Arbiter and sustained by this Commission in its August 10, 2011 Decision, complainants at the time of the termination of their services, have already attained permanent regular status pursuant to Section 1(a), Article XV of the 2006-2011 UST Faculty Union [USTFU] Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and such being the case, they cannot be terminated without cause and proper observance of due process,” NLRC Presiding Commissioner Raul Aquino said in the decision.

The labor dispute began when UST removed the professors from service upon their refusal to sign an agreement which required professors without master’s degrees to sign waivers renouncing their right to tenureship.

The three CFAD professors then filed charges before the NLRC on July 5, 2010 against former UST rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Academic Affairs head Dr. Clarita Carillo, CFAD dean Dr. Cythia Loza, Regent Fr. Edgardo Alaurin, O.P. and the CFAD Faculty Council.

UST’s legal basis is Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) Memorandum Order 40, series of 2008 (CMO 40), or the Manual of Regulation for Private Education of 2008 (Morphe), which states that a faculty member can only be tenured in a higher education institution when he or she is “a holder of master’s degree,” and, if applicable, a holder of the appropriate professional license.

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Meanwhile, Article 15 Section 1A of the 2006-2011 USTFU Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) gave previously hired faculty members five semesters to earn their master’s degrees, or be removed from service.

“[S]ince complainants have already obtained security of tenure, they cannot be terminated without just or authorized causes and observance of due process. Failure to obtain a master’s degree does not constitute a just or authorized cause for terminating complainants’ services as provided for under the Labor Code,” the CBA stated. “And nothing is stated in the CHEd Memorandum Order No. 040-08 that failure to obtain a master’s degree shall be a ground to terminate the services of the faculty.”

Reynaldo Reyes, USTFU vice president for grievance and complaints, said the union cannot allow the administration to violate any CBA provision.

“[T]he act of the University asking them to sign the waiver is in itself a violation of the two laws —the CHEd memo or requirement and also the Labor Code. [On one hand], you are violating the CBA and therefore it is against the law. On the other hand, it is a violation of the CHEd memo, because the waiver would allow the faculty concerned to continue teaching despite having no master’s degree,” Reyes said.

Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina disagreed.

“Unfair labor practice presupposes a flagrant violation of the CBA. In this case, not only there is no flagrant violation, there is no violation in the CBA,” Divina told the Varsitarian in an interview. “We maintain our position that the CHEd memorandum is integrated in any CBA. If [the CBA] is in conflict with the CHEd memorandum or the policy of the state … the law or the regulation of the state prevails.”

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The Varsitarian sought comments from Son, Antiola, and Pollarco but they have yet to reply. Bernadette D. Nicolas

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