UST Faculty Union (USTFU) officials have appointed new negotiators to collective bargaining agreement (CBA) talks with the University administration, sacking a veteran member in an attempt to break a stalemate and finally hike salaries that have been frozen for two years.

In a unanimous decision by the USTFU board of directors, Faculty of Arts and Letters professor Reynaldo Reyes, USTFU vice president for grievance and complaints, was replaced by Shirley Ireneo, a certified public accountant. Ireneo will be joined by Engineering professor Patrick Ellis Go. They were formally appointed last Nov. 19.

"At present Mr. Reyes is still [vice president] for grievance, although the USTFU board of officers, in consultation with the faculty club presidents, being the representatives of the faculty members in their respective colleges, has made some changes in the composition of the USTFU panel of negotiators," Rene Tadle, USTFU internal vice president, told the Varsitarian in an email.

In an interview, Tadle said: “Ireneo is one of the most competent persons [around]. She should have been on the negotiating panel even before.”

CBA negotiations, which were suspended by the UST management last October, resumed last Nov. 22 at the request of the union. The negotiations had been put on hold due to a petition written by Reyes that asked the seven-man USTFU panel to change its decision to accept the proposal of the University to transfer the CBA provisions on promotions and reclassifications to a separate faculty manual.

In opposition to the new union panel, Reyes submitted a letter last Nov. 28 to Clarita Carillo, vice rector for academic affairs, requesting the UST management to reconsider the resumption of CBA negotiations.

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"[I]f the UST panel agreed before to suspend the negotiation due to some alleged irregularities … then with greater reason [they] should reconsider the matter seriously now," said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Varsitarian.

Reyes pointed out that the appointment of a new panel violated the USTFU board resolution on the selection of the panel of negotiators. The entire faculty assembly elects the USTFU panel of negotiators, composed of the top seven candidates. Reyes argued in his letter that he ranked eighth, while Go ranked ninth.

Reyes also said he didn’t receive a copy of the resolution ordering his removal from the panel.

"Assuming there is a board resolution, the power to remove, recall, [or] to suspend me as [a] duly elected USTFU panel member belongs to the general membership in a general assembly, not to the USTFU board," the letter read. "There was no general assembly held for this purpose."

He also said Ireneo was not a candidate for the negotiating panel and was therefore not elected. Article 13, Section 1 of the union's by-laws states that only those elected by the general faculty are eligible for a seat in the negotiating panel.

'Silent majority'

As Tadle asked critics to respect the decision of the ruling party, a white paper from a group called "The Silent Majority" is circulating among faculty members, supporting Reyes' stand.

Tadle said in an e-mail to the Varsitarian that all concerns regarding the CBA may be brought up before ratification of the CBA by the faculty.

"[T]he Labor Code so provides that before the CBA ratification, the general membership is given five days to scrutinize and study the CBA document agreed upon by both panels. That is the time or period where the general membership can express their views for or against, or even reject the agreement if they are not happy with it. This is the mechanism we follow in all our CBA negotiations," he said.

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But the so-called Silent Majority thinks otherwise.

"Simple lang naman ang pwedeng gawin: tanungin ang USTFU [kung] ano'ng kabutihan nito sa atin. [K]ung wala silang kapani-paniwalang dahilan, bawiin nila sa negosasyon `yung pagkakatanggap nila ng transfer. Bakit kailangan pang hintayin [ang] ratification kung pwede namang bawiin 'yun ngayong negotiation?" the paper stated.

The white paper, said Reyes, was disseminated in the Faculty of Arts and Letters, but added he didn’t know who wrote it or if it had reached other colleges. Gena Myrtle P. Terre

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