Unfair Labor Practices by a Labor Organization

Employers may be held liable for unfair labor practices if they interfere with their employees right to self-organization.

1. Concept

“Unfair labor practices” – violate the constitutional right of workers and employees to self-organization, are inimical to the legitimate interests of both labor and management, including their right to bargain collectively and otherwise deal with each other in an atmosphere of freedom and mutual respect, disrupt industrial peace and hinder the promotion of healthy and stable labor-management relations. (Article 258, P.D. 442, Labor Code)

3. Labor Organization Unfair labor practices

Unfair labor practices may be committed both by the employer under Article 248 and by labor organizations under Article 249 of the Labor Code. (Mendoza v. MWEU, G.R. No. 201595, 25 January 2016)

It shall be unfair labor practice for a labor organization, its officers, agents or representatives:
1) To restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization. However, a labor organization shall have the right to prescribe its own rules with respect to the acquisition or retention of membership;
2) To cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee, including discrimination against an employee with respect to whom membership in such organization has been denied or to terminate an employee on any ground other than the usual terms and conditions under which membership or continuation of membership is made available to other members;
3) To violate the duty, or refuse to bargain collectively with the employer, provided it is the representative of the employees;
4) To cause or attempt to cause an employer to pay or deliver or agree to pay or deliver any money or other things of value, in the nature of an exaction, for services which are not performed or not to be performed, including the demand for fee for union negotiations;
5) To ask for or accept negotiation or attorney’s fees from employers as part of the settlement of any issue in collective bargaining or any other dispute; or
6) To violate a collective bargaining agreement. (Article 260, Ibid.)

The provisions of the preceding paragraph notwithstanding, only the officers, members of governing boards, representatives or agents or members of labor associations or organizations who have actually participated in, authorized or ratified unfair labor practices shall be held criminally liable. (Paragraph 2, Article 260, Ibid.)

a. Restrain or coerce

1) To restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization. However, a labor organization shall have the right to prescribe its own rules with respect to the acquisition or retention of membership; (Article 260, Ibid.)

NB: Interference is not included unlike unfair labor practices committed by the employer.

[G]enerally, a state may not compel ordinary voluntary associations to admit thereto any given individual, because membership therein may be accorded or withheld as a matter of privilege, the rule is qualified in respect of labor unions holding a monopoly in the supply of labor, either in a given locality, or as regards a particular employer with which it has a closed-shop agreement. (Salunga v. CIR, En Banc, G.R. No. L-22456, 27 September 1967)

b. Causing discrimination

2) To cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee, including discrimination against an employee with respect to whom membership in such organization has been denied or to terminate an employee on any ground other than the usual terms and conditions under which membership or continuation of membership is made available to other members; (Article 260, Ibid.)

[U]nions are not entitled to arbitrarily exclude qualified applicants for membership, and a closed-shop provision would not justify the employer in discharging, or a union in insisting upon the discharge of, an employee whom the union thus refuses to admit to membership, without any reasonable ground therefor. Needless to say, if said unions may be compelled to admit new members, who have the requisite qualifications, with more reason may the law and the courts exercise the coercive power when the employee involved is a long standing union member, who, owing to provocations of union officers, was impelled to tender his resignation, which he forthwith withdrew or revoked. Surely, he may, at least, invoke the rights of those who seek admission for the first time, and can not arbitrarily he denied readmission. (Salunga v. CIR, supra.)

RANCE v. NLRC, G.R. No. L-68147, 30 June 1988

⦁ [The Complainants] herein were among the members of the respondent union who were expelled by the latter for disloyalty in that they allegedly joined the NAFLU — a large federation. Because of the expulsion, [The Complainants] were dismissed by [the Company].

⦁ Placed in proper perspective, the mere act of seeking help from the NAFLU cannot constitute disloyalty as contemplated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. At most it was an act of self-preservation of workers who, driven to desperation found shelter in the NAFLU who took the cudgels for them.

⦁ It will be recalled that 460 employees were temporarily laid off; some were laid-off as early as March 22, 1982 although the actual official announcement and notice of the intended shutdown was made only on May 27, 1982… The laid-off employees did not receive any separation pay because as alleged by respondent company their dismissal was due to serious business reverses suffered by it. The only aid offered by the company which was offered when the disgruntled employees began to discuss among themselves their plight, was a 1/2 sack of rice monthly and P 50.00 weekly. Most of the employees did not avail themselves of the aid as those who did were allegedly made to sign blank papers. To aggravate matters, [The Complainants] complained that their pleas for their union officers to fight for their right to reinstatement, fell on deaf ears. Their union leaders continued working and were not among those laid-off, which explains the lack of positive action on the part of the latter to help or even sympathize with the plight of the members. All they could offer was a statement “marunong pa kayo sa may-ari ng kumpanya” (“you know more than the company owners”)… Under the circumstances, [The Complainants] cannot be blamed for seeking help wherever it could be found.

⦁ In fact even assuming that [The Complainants] did authorize NAFLU to file the action for them, it would have been pointless because NAFLU cannot file an action for members of another union. The proper remedy would be to drop the union as party to the action and place the names of the employees instead… as what appears to have been done in this case before the Court.

c. Duty to bargain violation

3) To violate the duty, or refuse to bargain collectively with the employer, provided it is the representative of the employees; (Article 260, Ibid.)

Labor organizations are agents of the members they represent. Accordingly, unions should ensure that they comply with the duty to bargain to protect and promote the interests of the bargaining unit.

d. Exaction

4) To cause or attempt to cause an employer to pay or deliver or agree to pay or deliver any money or other things of value, in the nature of an exaction, for services which are not performed or not to be performed, including the demand for fee for union negotiations; (Article 260, Ibid.)

The union has been evolved as an organization of collective strength for the protection of labor against the unjust exactions of capital, but equally important is the requirement of fair dealing between the union and its members, which is fiduciary in nature, and arises out of two factors: “one is the degree of dependence of the individual employee on the union organization; the other, a corollary of the first, is the comprehensive power vested in the union with respect to the individual.” The union may be considered but the agent of its members for the purpose of securing for them fair and just wages and good working conditions and is subject to the obligation of giving the members as its principals all information relevant to union and labor matters entrusted to it… (Heirs of Cruz v. CIR, En Banc, G.R. No. L-23331-32 and 23361-62, En Banc, 27 December 1969)

e. Ask/accept negotiation or attorney’s fees

5) To ask for or accept negotiation or attorney’s fees from employers as part of the settlement of any issue in collective bargaining or any other dispute; (Article 260, Ibid.)

Just as [the Supreme Court] has stricken down unjust exploitation of laborers by oppressive employers, so will it strike down their unfair treatment by their own unworthy leaders. The Constitution enjoins the State to afford protection to labor. Fair dealing is equally demanded of unions as well as of employers in their dealings with employees. (Heirs of Cruz v. CIR, supra.)

f. CBA violation

6) To violate a collective bargaining agreement. (Article 260, Ibid.)

Labor organizations may be held liable for unfair labor practices for any violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

References

Book V, Presidential Decree No. 442, a.k.a. Labor Code of the Philippines

Book V, Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code

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

/Updated: February 11, 2023

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