Left to right: Kabalikat Party's Asst. Prof. Revenendo Vargas, Lingkod-Guro party's Prof. Jove Jim Aguas and Sulong USTFU's Asst. Prof. Emerito Gonzales (Photos from the UST website)

THE THREE professors vying for the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) presidency are all vowing to start talks for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering 2021 to 2026.

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 only ratified in September 2020.

The candidates, Asst. Prof. Revenendo Vargas of Kabalikat Party, Prof. Jove Jim Aguas of Lingkod-Guro Party and Asst. Prof. Emerito Gonzales of Sulong USTFU, want to do away with delays in the CBA implementation.

Outgoing union president George Lim’s Kabalikat party aims for “the immediate constitution of the CBA negotiation panel members with the initial negotiation on the political aspects pending audited economic and financial reports from the University.”

Vargas, who was part of the union panel for the last two CBAs, vowed to pursue “better services and benefits” for faculty members.

Kabalikat will also push for higher wages, expanded general health, wellness and hospitalization programs, an accessible grievance machinery, tenureship security and a “generous” retirement package.

Aguas, Lingkod-Guro’s presidential candidate, said negotiations for the new CBA must be held as soon as possible to avoid having a rushed deal.

“The political issues need to be discussed thoroughly and not rushed. However, the situation before was difficult, thus the rush. But if we start early, I think we will have enough time to thresh out these issues. Therefore it is important to form the negotiating panel as soon as possible,” Aguas told the Varsitarian.

‘Good relationship’ with admin needed

If elected president, Aguas said he would maintain a good relationship between the UST administration and the faculty.

“The admin are also people and we need to treat them as such and as partners not as adversaries. [Specifically] I will reach out to them and have a meeting with them. The key is establishing a healthy and respectful relationship with the admin. All our concrete plans for the faculty are anchored on such relationship,” he said.

Gonzales of Sulong USTFU said his party would demand the release of the faculty’s tuition fee increase (TFI) share from the administration.

“Our main framework is to negotiate above the law-mandated share of the teachers from the TFI. Why do we need to negotiate for it when the law already assures us that it is ours? The TFI shares at the end of the school year must be released immediately to the teachers, within the first month of the following semester,” Gonzalez told the Varsitarian

Under the law, 70 percent of tuition increases must go to salaries, wages, allowances and other benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel, while 20 percent must go to the improvement or modernization of buildings, equipment, libraries, laboratories and similar facilities, and payment for other operational costs.

Gonzales said that if elected into office, he would immediately form a CBA panel and renegotiate the existing CBA.

“After two months, we shall renegotiate the remaining two years of the current CBA.  Then by July or August 2021, we shall invite the management panel to start formally talking about the 2021-2026 CBA,” Gonzales said. 

Gonzales and his partymates Edilberto Gonzaga and Rebecca Adri were removed from the negotiating panel of the 2016-2021 CBA after publicizing their appeal to distribute the TFI shares. 

The latest CBA provided salary hikes for faculty members regardless of rank and increases in some benefits. Faculty members were also given a “pandemic assistance” of P10,000 amid the Covid-19 outbreak apart from the usual signing bonus.

Free vaccines

Kabalikat aims to conduct training and information drives on labor education.

Lingkod-Guro vows to “enhance” faculty instruction and research and “transform” USTFU “into a more proactive, integrative and collaborative association.”

Aguas said creating solutions to stem job losses amid low enrollment was one of his priorities. 

“One concrete priority is how to ensure that with the decreasing enrollment we can come up with alternatives so that faculty members will not be severely affected and they will not lose their jobs,” he said.

Aside from CBA reforms, Sulong USTFU will focus on strengthening networks and labor relations, and boost labor education and the entrepreneurial and financial well-being programs for members.

Gonzales also wants free vaccines against Covid-19 for all faculty members.

USFTU will elect its officials online on Feb. 15 to 17 with winners serving 5-year terms.

Running under Vargas’ Kabalikat Party are: Claudine Say for internal vice president, George Chao for external vice president, Leny Gadiana for vice president for labor education and development, reelectionist vice president for legal affairs Aurora Cristina Bermudez, and Pocholo Mari Arabit for vice president for grievances and complaints.

Running under Aguas’ Lingkod-Guro Party are: incumbent executive vice president Patrick Ellis Go, Roberto Ampil for internal vice president, Analiza Yanga for external vice president, Nestor Noble for vice president for labor education and development, and James Platon for vice president for grievances and complaints. Platon is the incumbent vice president for labor education and development.

Running under Gonzales’ Sulong USTFU are: incumbent internal vice president Edilberto Gonzaga for executive vice president, Rebecca Adri for internal vice president, Jonathan Geronimo for external vice president and Noel Asiones for vice president for legal affairs.

Candidates for secretary general are Elizabeth Kapulong (Kabalikat) and Luciana Urquiola (Lingkod Guro).

Incumbent Joyce Tan (Kabalikat) and Elenita Mendoza (Lingkod Guro) are the candidates for treasurer.

Maria Luisa Reyes (Kabalikat), Fernando Talion (Lingkod Guro) and Leonid Lintag (Sulong USTFU) are vying for auditorship.

Public relations officer bets are James Mark Nidea (Kabalikat), Emelito Sarmago (Lingkod Guro) and Katherine Kyra Alonday (Sulong USTFU).

Jonathan Cabero, Alvin Tan and Robert Montaña are the candidates for sergeant at arms of Kabalikat, Lingkod Guro and Sulong USTFU, respectively.

Running for the board of directors under Vargas are Stephen Querico Buñi, Raymond Clarin, Kristi Ma. Fevie Macasaet, Raul Ortega, Crisencio Paner and Dominador Ulaye.

Candidates for the board under Aguas are Myrna de Vera, Jan Erven Ganacias, Mary Grace Hernandez, Ronald Paguta, Joseph Benedict Prim and Marvin Zapanta.

Maria Victoria Bongar, Elvis Llarena and Ulysses Parado are vying for directorship under Gonzales.


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