NEWLY ELECTED UST Faculty Union (USTFU) President Emerito Gonzales is vowing to “rebuild” the union through revisions to the USTFU constitution and by-laws (CBL), a labor education program, and tie-ups with teachers’ organizations.

In a message to UST faculty, Gonzales said “serious concerns” over how USTFU had been managed for the past years needed to be addressed.

“[B]ut we must focus as well on improving our working conditions, protecting our job security in these trying times and creating a union that will forge genuine partnership, based on principled cooperation, with UST as molders of the minds of our youth,” he said.

Gonzales won the USTFU presidency after mustering 440 votes. He defeated Asst. Prof. Revenendo Vargas of the Institute of Religion, standard bearer of Kabalikat party who got 419 votes; and Prof. Jove Jim Aguas, also of the philosophy department, who garnered 208 votes.

He will replace Dr. George Lim of Kabalikat, who led USTFU for 10 years.

Gonzales was among the negotiators removed from the union panel during the 2016-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations for allegedly violating confidentiality rules when they publicly called for the immediate release of the faculty’s 70-percent share of tuition increases since 2016.

The Arts and Letters philosophy professor also called for a more united USTFU.

“I believe we need not even be friends, but I do believe that we can stand strongly united because we can all agree that in the affairs of the union, our teaching and non-teaching faculty are first. For this reason, we have enough room to work together,” he said.

Constitutional revisions

The new union chief said that within 100 days, he would form a committee to review and revise the “outdated” CBL so that USTFU’s affairs would become “more transparent and democratic.”

“The constitution must address among others issues of union membership, censuring, or impeaching USTFU officers quickly and more efficiently, and the accountability and performance evaluation of USTFU officers,” Gonzales said.

He also plans to form a committee that will draft a code of conduct for union elections and CBA ratifications.

Labor education

Gonzales said he would push for a labor education program for all USTFU members.

“We cannot afford that our leaders and members do not have the clearest idea of the difference between a labor union and a social club.  We all must learn—me included. If we invest in our labor education now, we invest in the future stability of USTFU,” he said. 

USTFU will establish ties with teachers’ organizations, especially those in the private sector, and connect with government agencies, he said.

Collective bargaining negotiations

To fulfill his campaign promise, Gonzales said he would immediately form a CBA panel and renegotiate the existing agreement.

“I shall schedule, with the support of the USTFU executive and board of officers, the immediate election of a new panel of CBA negotiators for 2021-2026. I shall also appoint the members of the CBA Committee that will support the panel consistent with the mandate of our CBL,” he said.

Faculty CBA talks, which involve salaries and other terms and conditions of work, have often been delayed.

The 2011-2016 CBA was ratified by the faculty only in 2014, after a deadlock was broken through backchannel talks, while the 2016-2021 CBA was ratified only in September 2020.

Gonzales and Asst. Prof. Edilberto Gonzaga, both of Sulong USTFU party, claimed the union’s two highest spots. 

Kabalikat party members secured nine executive positions and six spots in the board of directors.

The new board also has three Sulong USTFU members and one Lingkod-Guro professor.

Gonzales will serve a five-year term as USTFU chief until 2026.


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