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A – Labor organizations, unions

1. Summary

▪ A labor organization is any union or association of employees which exists in whole or in part for the purpose of collective bargaining or of dealing with employers concerning terms and conditions of employment

▪ A labor organization generally has two (2) rights, namely: (a) the right to collective bargaining; and (b) the right to deal with the employer.

2. Concept

A labor organization is defined as “any union or association of employees which exists in whole or in part for the purpose of collective bargaining or of dealing with employers concerning terms and conditions of employment.” (Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard v. Bureau of Labor Relations, G. R. No. 211145, 14 October 2015)

A union refers to “any labor organization in the private sector organized for collective bargaining and for other legitimate purpose, while a workers’ association is an organization of workers formed for the mutual aid and protection of its members or for any legitimate purpose other than collective bargaining.” (Ibid.)

Many associations or groups of employees, or even combinations of only several persons, may qualify as a labor organization yet fall short of constituting a labor union. While every labor union is a labor organization, not every labor organization is a labor union. The difference is one of organization, composition and operation. (Ibid.)

3. Rights of a labor organization

A labor organization has two broad rights:

1) To bargain collectively; and,

2) To deal with the employer concerning terms and conditions of employment. (Ibid.)

To bargain collectively is a right given to a union once it registers itself with the DOLE. (Ibid.)

Dealing with the employer, on the other hand, is a generic description of interaction between employer and employees concerning grievances, wages, work hours and other terms and conditions of employment, even if the employees’ group is not registered with the DOLE. (Ibid.)

a. Right to collective bargaining

Collective bargaining is just one of the forms of employee participation. Despite so much interest in and the promotion of collective bargaining, it is incorrect to say that it is the device and no other, which secures industrial democracy. It is equally misleading to say that collective bargaining is the end-goal of employee representation. Rather, the real aim is employee participation in whatever form it may appear, bargaining or no bargaining, union or no union. Any labor organization which may or may not be a union may deal with the employer. This explains why a workers’ association or organization does not always have to be a labor union and why employer-employee collective interactions are not always collective bargaining. (Ibid.)

b. Right to deal with the employer

To further strengthen employee participation, Article 255 (now 261) of the Labor Code mandates that workers shall have the right to participate in policy and decision-making processes of the establishment where they are employed insofar as said processes will directly affect their rights, benefits and welfare. For this purpose, workers and employers may form LMCs [Labor-Management Councils/Committees]. (Ibid.)


Presidential Decree No. 442, Labor Code of the Philippines

DOLE Department Order No. 40, Series of 2003

DOLE Department Order No. 40-A-I, Series of 2003

DOLE Department Order No. 40-B, Series of 2003

DOLE Department Order No. 40-C, Series of 2004

DOLE Department Order No. 40-D, Series of 2005

DOLE Department Order No. 40-F-3, Series of 2008

DOLE Department Order No. 40-G-03, Series of 2010

DOLE Department Order No. 40-I, Series of 2015

DOLE Department Order No. 15, Series of 2015

▪ Jurisprudence or Supreme Court Decisions (as cited above)

Next B – Legitimate labor organizations
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