Supreme Court favors UST in tenureship dispute  

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AFTER a seven-year legal dispute over tenureship, the Supreme Court has upheld the University’s move to dismiss instructors from the College of Fine Arts and Design (CFAD) for failing to obtain master’s degrees.

In a 19-page resolution dated April 18, the Supreme Court backed UST’s decision to dismiss CFAD instructors Raymond Son, Raymund Antiola and Wilfredo Pollarco in 2010. The three were unable to finish their master’s studies in five semesters as agreed upon when they were hired as probationary faculty members.

Article 15, Section 1 of the 2006 to 2011 UST Faculty Union (USTFU) collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provides that a teaching faculty member should be given a tenure-track appointment after rendering six consecutive semesters of “satisfactory service” on a full-time basis, given that they must obtain their master’s degrees within five semesters or they would be removed from service.

The Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools Order of 1992, however, requires a master’s degree for undergraduate  professors in their field of instruction, as a minimum qualification to acquire a regular status in a private educational institution.

“When the CBA was executed between the parties in 2006, they had no right to include therein the provision relative to the acquisition of tenure by default, because it is contrary to, and thus violative of the 1992 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools that was in effect at that time,” the court ruling read.

The Supreme Court said both parties violated the law, citing UST’s practice of hiring “unqualified” faculty members or those without master’s degrees. The instructors, on the other hand, could not insist to be employed on a regular basis as they did not possess qualifications.

The dispute began in 2010 when UST terminated the instructors from service upon their refusal to sign a waiver that required faculty members without master’s degrees forego tenureship.

The three CFAD instructors filed illegal dismissal charges against former UST rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., former vice rector for academic affairs Clarita Carillo, former CFAD dean Cythia Loza, college regent Fr. Edgardo Alaurin, O.P. and the CFAD Faculty Council.

The Office of Labor Arbiter ruled in favor of the petitioners, declaring the University officials guilty of illegal dismissal. The UST officials then filed an appeal before the National Labor Relations Commision (NLRC).

The NLRC dismissed UST’s appeal and affirmed the Labor Arbiter’s decision.

After a motion for reconsideration from UST, the NLRC changed course, reversing the Labor Arbiter’s decision declaring the dismissal illegal.

A new decision was issued in 2012 by the NLRC’s Special Division, dismissing the labor case against the UST officials, stating that the CBA’s provisions on tenureship were “null and void” as the Commission on Higher Education regulations took precedence over the CBA.

The teachers, this time, sought a reconsideration from the NLRC, which reassigned the case to its second division. The second division granted the faculty members’ motion, reinstating the Labor Arbiter’s ruling that declared their dismissal illegal.

University officials filed a motion for reconsideration, questioning the “adverse” decisions of the NLRC, which was granted.

In 2014, the instructors filed an appeal on the decision but were denied, which prompted them to elevate the case to the Supreme Court in 2016.

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