UST Faculty members drop-off their votes during the secret ballot at the Medicine auditorium. Photo by John Daniel J. Hirro

18 March 2014, 11:50 p.m. – FACULTY members have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the University administration, paving the way for salary increases and other economic benefits as well as tougher criteria for promotion.

Tuesday’s secret ballot resulted in overwhelming support for the 2011-2016 CBA, with 1,368 faculty members voting for the approval of the new five-year contract that will allow the distribution of three years’ worth of backpay.

Out of 1,549 registered voters, only 157 voted “No,” while 24 votes were declared “spoiled” or invalid by the Commission on Elections of the UST Faculty Union (USTFU). Classes were suspended until 12 noon to allow USTFU officials to discuss the long-delayed CBA in a general assembly and field questions from faculty members. Voting at the Medicine Auditorium ended at 5 p.m.

Salaries for general faculty will go up by 3 percent to 19 percent. The new CBA also provided for salary hikes for high school teachers, guidance counselors, and librarians. Union officials said economic benefits would be distributed on or before March 31, including a signing bonus of up to P15,000. The Rector will also grant an extra P7,500 “goodwill bonus,” the Varsitarian has learned.

After 34 formal negotiations that lasted for almost a year and several backdoor talks with Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P., the University administration and USTFU reached a “compromise” and signed the new CBA last March 10, averting a strike. USTFU had filed a notice of strike with the Labor department’s conciliation and mediation board after declaring a deadlock in talks last Feb. 14.

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The administration got its way with a point-based system of distributing contested teaching loads, while agreeing to increase the weight for research and creative works to only 17.5 percent instead of 25 percent, from the original 12.5 percent under the faculty promotion and classification scheme. USTFU had sought two successive three-unit reductions in the 24-unit full-time faculty load without salary cuts in exchange for doubling the weight. The union had also insisted on retaining seniority as the basis of load distribution.

In the final CBA, the full-time load will be reduced by three units to 21 units without salary cuts, on a staggered basis starting with full professors effective Academic Year (AY) 2014-2015. The new full-time load will apply to all instructors in AY 2017-2018. In exchange for the three-unit reduction, faculty members will be given other assignments such as consultation and committee work, among others.

Other economic benefits, which include Christmas, clothing, laundry, anniversary, and birthday bonuses; meal allowance; rice in kind and in cash; and annual distribution of goods based on years of service in the University will retroact to June 2011.

Lawyer Danielito Jimenez, a professor from the Faculty of Arts and Letters, expressed dismay over what he claimed was the “swift” signing of the CBA. “[N]alulungkot ako sa turnout ng CBA kasi it appeared [that] we could have gotten more, dahil ang nangyari dito, parang mabilisan [ang signing],” Jimenez told the Varsitarian. “So, I hope in the future negotiations, there will be a better way of negotiating, there will be transparency.”

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But Revenendo Vargas, member of the USTFU panel and the USTFU board, said there was no such thing as a “perfect” CBA.

“Mayroong mga flaws, pero walang perfect CBA. ‘Pag na-ratify ito, sabay-sabay nating ii-implement ito para mas maayos. Walang perfect na CBA, [tayong faculty members] ang magpe-perfect [nito],” he said. Gena Myrtle P. Terre

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