08 March 2014, 8:44 p.m. – THE UST Faculty Union’s (USTFU) demands could deprive the University of institutional recognition and accreditation as it would be unable to meet minimum standards for teachers, the administration has claimed.

Dr. Clarita Carillo, vice rector for academic affairs, made the warning in a letter to administrative and academic officials last Feb. 26, in a bid to “set the facts straight” due to supposed “false and specious” information spreading among faculty members.

The letter, released four days after USTFU’s letter to its members explaining the deadlock in collective bargaining talks, pointed out that the University is required to follow minimum qualifications set by the Manual of Regulations for Private High Education (Morphe) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) for college faculty.

Negotiations to draft a new five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that will lay out salary hikes and other terms and conditions of employment ended in deadlock on Valentine’s Day, due to disagreements in promotion and reclassification and the distribution of teaching loads, among others.

USTFU claims the UST administration’s proposals will diminish benefits. In a letter dated Feb. 22, USTFU President George Lim bared that the management had proposed to include a “no strike-no lockout” provision, which the union panel found “unacceptable.” USTFU filed a notice of strike before the National Conciliation and Mediation Board last Feb. 27 following the deadlock in CBA negotiations.

In response, Carillo said the “no strike-no lockout” provision would allow harmonious relations between the two parties and would not violate the union’s right to strike as provided under the Labor Code.

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“The provision is an expression of the firm commitment of the parties that USTFU will not strike during the effectivity of the CBA and that the University will not exercise to stage a lockout,” she said. “[T]he provision aims to preserve industrial peace whenever possible.”

Carillo said management’s proposed revisions on promotion and reclassification only sought to meet current academic demands and did not distract from UST’s recognition of the outstanding performance of faculty members.

“[The revisions] are intended to channel and guide the professional growth and development of every faculty member towards the quality standards set for the teaching staff of higher education institutions in the face of local or international accreditation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration, world ranking, and internationalization,” she said.

In the distribution of teachings loads, Carillo noted that tenured faculty members would still be prioritized, followed by probationary and contractual teachers.

“Allowing lecturers to carry up to 12-unit teaching load will not ‘effectively reduce’ the available load for tenured faculty members. [T]hey cannot be assigned undistributed load as accrediting agencies prohibit overload. [M]aximizing the load of lectures avoids the need to hire too many part-timers,” she added.

USTFU had proposed two subsequent three-unit reductions in full-time teaching loads in the next three years for teachers to meet the University’s proposal to double the weight for research output to 25 percent from 12.5-percent in the faculty promotion scheme.

Carillo added that the faculty’s share in tuition increase could not be released unless a CBA is ratified, contrary to the union’s position. The new CBA will determine how the mandated 70 percent share in tuition hikes will be divided among faculty, support staff, and academic officials, she said.

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“The share of the support staff was earlier distributed because the Samahang Manggagawa (SM-UST) ratified a CBA that determines specifically how this share will be released. The share of the officials was released recently as they completely leave at the discretion of management how their share will be spent,” said Carillo.

The faculty union demanded its share of tuition increases last Feb. 28 from the Office of the Vice Rector for Finance, citing its statutory right to a 70-percent portion of tuition hikes.

Carillo also clarified that the net income referred to by USTFU came from other fees collected from students. “Spending these fees other than [for] the purposes announced to students would be illegal,” she said.

USTFU pointed out in its Feb. 22 letter that the University’s net income–P772 million in academic year 2010-2011, P1 billion in 2011-2012, and P987 million in 2012-2013–would be enough to retain current salary levels even with reductions in teaching loads.

Carillo added that USTFU had agreed to management’s proposed system of considering academic preparation, competence evaluation, professional rank, and average load aside from years of service in distributing workload, but talks to finalize this scheme were cut short due to USTFU’s declaration of a deadlock.

Moreover, Carillo said both panels were “not anymore contentious” after agreeing on several other CBA provisions such as overtime pay for faculty members excluding non-teaching activities, representation of USTFU in the Academic Senate only when deemed necessary, the three-unit incentive pay to faculty members exclusively teaching in the University, and the requirement to render a maximum of three years of service for every year of leave with pay, among others.

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UST admin bares causes of deadlock with faculty union

“The management panel undertakes to untiringly present the truth behind the faculty CBA negotiations, motivated by the sincere desire to help all concerned make informed opinions and decisions,” Carillo said. “It commits to protect not only the University’s interests but the welfare of the general faculty. It thinks of no personal interest or gain.”

Carillo’s letter was released a few days before the Rector’s speech during the 15th Dangal ng UST Awards last March 5.

In his speech, UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. assured faculty members of reduced workloads starting next academic year and the distribution of financial benefits. Gena Myrtle P. Terre

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