Faculty members elect CBA negotiators; inclusion of union president questioned  

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MEMBERS of the 1,900-strong UST Faculty Union (USTFU) have elected negotiators for the 2016 to 2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the University administration, but some have contested the inclusion of union president Dr. George Lim as head of the negotiating panel.

Lawyer Jose Ngo Jr. of the UST-Alfredo M. Velayo College of Accountancy, Edilberto Gonzaga of the College of Science, Rebecca Adri of the Institute of Physical Education and Athletics, and Michelle Desierto and Emerito Gonzales of the Faculty of Arts and Letters, were elected last May 28 as USTFU panel members.

In a statement, the newly elected members of the panel vowed to negotiate for a CBA that would “improve the terms and conditions of our employment as faculty members.”

“This new negotiation is an opportunity to rectify the errors of the past and rebuild our CBA and thus improve the terms and conditions of our employment as faculty members,” the statement read.

Several faculty members, however, questioned the inclusion of Lim in the negotiating panel as chairman, as he was not elected as a member of the negotiating panel as required by USTFU rules.

In a meeting with the USTFU Board last May 31, USTFU Treasurer Joyce Tan moved for the approval of the resolution naming Lim to head the USTFU negotiating panel, which prompted the five panel members to stage a walkout.

“It is given that a union can only negotiate effectively if its ranks are united. Thus, we beg Dr. Lim to heed the clamor of the faculty and allow the new panel of CBA negotiators to do its job. And if he would insist in heading the panel of negotiators, then he must follow the USTFU-CBL by subjecting himself to an election or ratification,” faculty members said in a statement.

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Article 13, Section 1 of the faculty union’s charter states that “Collective bargaining for and in behalf of the general membership shall be undertaken by the Board of Officers through a negotiating panel the members of which shall be duly elected by the general membership.”

In response, Lim claimed that Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had affirmed that the faculty union’s commission on elections had legal basis to name him as head of the negotiating panel, being president of the union.

“Despite these, however, some members persist in spreading [the] wrong information perhaps to intentionally mislead our membership regarding the true issue. They insist that I cannot be a member of the negotiating panel. [I] challenge them to come out in the open and show their legal basis that I, as president of the union and tasked to represent the union at all times, is not a member of the negotiating panel,” he said in a statement to faculty members.

He added that the union officers “shall not hesitate to use all the powers and available resources vested by our [Constitution and By-Laws] upon our positions to settle this matter at the earliest time.”

Formal negotiations for the 2016 to 2021 CBA have yet to begin, but panel members said they had started accepting proposals and recommendations from faculty members for the next CBA.

CBA talks between the faculty union and the UST administration reached a deadlock in 2014, which almost led to a strike after USTFU members filed a notice of strike before the DOLE’s National Conciliation and Mediation Board. The CBA negotiations moved forward following “back-channel talks” between Lim and Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P.

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