Panel: Faculty Unionization and Collective Bargaining in the Philippines: Similarities and Differences

Panel Description

This panel is intended as a forum for comparative perspectives on faculty unionization and collective bargaining in the Philippines. Presenters will share overviews of the current situation in the Philippines, and describe the law and policy frameworks that enable and constrain organizing rights, in historical context. Importantly, they will also examine the response of unions to these challenges. 

We hope the panel will open up critical comparative discussion on the responses of national governments, administrators and unions to the global COVID-19 pandemic, through a case-study of private sector higher ed workers in the Philippines. We also anticipate that panelists and discussants will introduce a transnational analysis, through examination of some current issues related to faculty migration from the Philippines to the US, as well as to the higher education institutions in the Philippines training labor migrants for work in the US, with an emphasis on the role of unions in both countries, and the implications for collective bargaining.

Panelists Bios

Benjamin Velasco is an Assistant Professor at the School of Labor and Industrial Relations (SOLAIR) of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. He is also Director of SOLAIR’s Center for Labor and Grassroots Initiative and Co-convenor of the Alternative Development Program of the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies. Before entering academe, he was engaged for almost 30 years in labor and social movements. He can be reached at

Rene Luis Tadle is the lead convener of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities (CoTeSCUP). He is both a faculty member of the Philosophy Department of the Faculty of Arts and Letters and a research fellow of the Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanities of the University of Santo Tomas. He was a member of the Board of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) (1999-2004; 2014-2017; 2018-2021) and was recently appointed for another three-year term (2021-2024) by the President of the Philippines to represent the Labor Sector. TESDA is a national government agency tasked to manage Technical Vocational education and Training (TVET) in the country. For many years, he occupied various positions in the UST Faculty Union (USTFU) including Executive Director, Executive Vice President, VP-Labor Education, and CBA negotiator. He also served as a resource person in various Congressional and Senate hearings and government-created tripartite committees on various labor-related issues of private school teachers.

Gerardo Blanco is associate professor and academic director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College. He is also a Fulbright Specialist and an advisor for programs and global initiatives at the American Council on Education. His research explores the intersections of quality and internationalization in higher education. He earned his doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2014, 2017 and 2020, he received research awards from the Comparative and international Education Society, and he has published more than 30 journal articles on higher education topics. Born in Mexico, he has taught or conducted research in over 15 different countries. 

Shannon Lederer, as director of immigration policy for the AFL-CIO, works with unions and allies in all sectors of the U.S. labor movement to develop and advance inclusive policies that promote workers’ rights and shared prosperity.  She supports activities that range from legislative and regulatory advocacy to citizenship clinics, organizing drives and contract negotiations. In her 20+ years in the labor movement, she has also worked closely with the global unions on cross-border efforts to more effectively represent and defend workers who are on the move.

Ashwini Sukthankar, Secretary/Treasurer, International Commission for Labor Rights. Ashwini is a lawyer and trade unionist. Over the last 20 years, she has (variously) directed the global work of UNITE HERE, coordinated the pro bono lawyers’ network of the International Commission for Labor Rights, and served as investigations and research director for the Worker Rights Consortium. She currently supports global organizing campaigns at the AFL-CIO. She lives in the Hudson Valley.