NEGOTIATIONS on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the University and the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) will resume on Nov. 22 after a month of suspension.

USTFU internal vice-president Rene Tadle said George Lim, union president, has asked the administration for the negotiation to resume.

Both panels have hoped to come up with a CBA by December, said Tadle.

"We are now delayed by more than a month,” he said. “Both panels will just have to work double time."

The delay arose allegedly as a result of the petition dated October 5 by Reynaldo Reyes, USTFU vice president for grievance and complaints, demanding that the USTFU negotiating panel reverse its decision to accept the administration panel’s proposal to transfer certain CBA provisions, such as criteria for promotion and reclassification, complaints against faculty members, and study leaves, to a separate faculty manual.

The administration has reportedly argued that such provisions have been questioned by accreditation bodies, since faculty promotion, study grants and the like are matters that are decided by merit and promotion standards, not collective bargaining,

Reyes argued that the union panel should have consulted the faculty general membership first before agreeing to the proposal. He disclosed that the union panel had accepted the proposal even before the general assembly last September 20. He added that during the assembly, Lim didn’t mention that the union had already accepted the proposal.

Reyes said many members opposed the measurel. But even then, he said, the USTFU panel reaffirmed its decision to accept UST’s proposal in a meeting last October 2.

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Tadle defended the decision of the USTFU panel.

"We cannot go back to our members and consult them every time there is a disagreement among the members of the panel, especially on issues where all the members of the panel are in agreement except for one member,” he said. “We just have to learn to respect the decision of the majority."

But Reyes insisted faculty interest requires that the contentious provisions stay in the CBA.

"If the criteria for promotion have been there in the three CBAs, and there were violations that happened on the part of the University regarding promotions, how much more when (they are) separated [and transferred to a faculty manual], which now becomes the prerogative of the management?" he told the Varsitarian.

He warned that the UST administration might “change the rules of the game” via the faculty manual.

Arlo Salvador of the Faculty of Arts and Letters echoed Reyes’s point.

"What we have gained, we should never lose," he said.

But Tadle disagreed.

"(The provisions) may be placed in another document but (they are) still part of the CBA,” he said. “We would like to assure everyone that we sought sound and adequate legal advice on the matter. [Provisions regarding] promotion and reclassification will still be subject to negotiation every five years."

But Reyes was unimpressed.

"[T]he faculty used to cross the river using a stable bridge for three CBAs,” he said. “Now the USTFU is telling [the faculty that] from now on we should use a rope to cross the river [and not to] worry [since] there is a safety net just in case we fall.”

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Meanwhile, Clarita Carillo, vice rector for academic affairs, refused comment.

“I regret that the ground rules, mutually agreed upon by both panels, prohibit me from discussing any detail of the on-going CBA negotiation. Hence, I cannot disclose any information related to your inquiries,” she said in an e-mail to the Varsitarian.

Both panels have refused to divulge the salary increase and other economic demands of the union and the counter-offer of the administration. Gena Myrtle P. Terre

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