Labor dept tells USTFU chief: Explain distribution of P22-M union savings

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THE LABOR department has ordered officials of the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) to explain to members the controversial distribution of union savings last year, following a complaint filed by a group of faculty members.

In a resolution dated May 9, a mediator-arbiter of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) told USTFU President George Lim and other officials to call for a general assembly and justify the distribution of P22 million in funds.

“Failure on the part of the respondents to comply with the directive and/or failure to obtain a majority (in the general assembly)… will result [in] the restitution by the members of the respective amounts received by them to the USTFU union funds,” the resolution read.

Lim called for a special general assembly on May 28 at the Medicine Auditorium.

“I understand everyone is busy at this time of the academic year, but in compliance with the Order, we are calling for an [assembly]… Please be present so we can lay this issue to rest,” Lim wrote in a letter dated May 22, adding he was saddened by the complaint filed by a group of faculty members in February against the “majority” of the officers.

Lawyer Danielito Jimenez, legal counsel of the complainants, said the resolution of the labor department pointed to Lim’s violation of union by-laws.

“It is bewildering why he is only saddened now when the case was filed months ago… The [complainants] took a noble stand to question what they felt was legally and morally wrong… a distribution of savings coming from incumbent, retired and separated [USTFU] members,” he told the Varsitarian.

Jimenez said the directive from the labor department should pave the way for “proper assemblies” in the future.

He clarified that the restitution of the union fund distribution was not yet final, as it must be resolved in a final resolution of the DOLE.

Faculty members Rene Tadle, Noel Asiones, Michelle Desierto, Leonardo Guevarra Jr., Gemma Aboy, John Vincent Ignacio and Ramil Sotelo Sasi filed a complaint against USTFU officials before the DOLE in February, citing the alleged unjust distribution of USTFU savings.

The complainants opposed the release of P22 million in union money to members, arguing that USTFU officers were not mandated to distribute funds or savings in any form.

They claimed that USTFU officers violated Article 10, Section 4 of the union constitution and by-laws, which provides that union funds must only be used for labor education programs, collective bargaining agreements, welfare cooperative programs and other plans or programs that will promote the interest and welfare of the union and its members.

The complainants also slammed the lack of an open forum and the presence of security personnel in the USTFU general assembly on Oct. 18, 2018, where Lim announced the distribution of millions in savings.

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