Labor Standards

Unfair labor practices

Unfair labor practices are those which interfere with the employee’s right to self-organization and which may be committed either by the employer or a labor organization.

1. Summary

▪ Unfair labor practices are specific offenses against the right to self-organization of workers or employees.

▪ There are civil and criminal liabilities for those who commit unfair labor practices.

▪ Unfair labor practices may be committed by the employer or a labor organization.

2. Concepts

“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)

In essence, [unfair labor practice] relates to the commission of acts that transgress the workers’ right to organize. [A]ll the prohibited acts constituting unfair labor practice in essence relate to the workers’ right to self-organization. [T]he term unfair labor practice refers to that gamut of offenses defined in the Labor Code which, at their core, violates the constitutional right of workers and employees to self-organization. (Mendoza v. MWEU, G.R. No. 201595, 25 January 2016)

3. 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)

a. By employers

It shall be unlawful for an employer to commit any of the following unfair labor practices:
1) To interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization;
2) To require as a condition of employment that a person or an employee shall not join a labor organization or shall withdraw from one to which he belongs;
3) To contract out services or functions being performed by union members when such will interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization;
4) To initiate, dominate, assist or otherwise interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization, including the giving of financial or other support to it or its organizers or supporters;
5) To discriminate in regard to wages, hours of work and other terms and conditions of employment in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization. Nothing in the Labor Code or in any other law shall stop the parties from requiring membership in a recognized collective bargaining agent as a condition for employment, except those employees who are already members of another union at the time of the signing of the collective bargaining agreement. Employees of an appropriate bargaining unit who are not members of the recognized collective bargaining agent may be assessed a reasonable fee equivalent to the dues and other fees paid by members of the recognized collective bargaining agent, if such non-union members accept the benefits under the collective bargaining agreement: Provided, That the individual authorization required under Article 242, paragraph (o) of this Code204 shall not apply to the non-members of the recognized collective bargaining agent;
6) To dismiss, discharge or otherwise prejudice or discriminate against an employee for having given or being about to give testimony under this Code;
7) To violate the duty to bargain collectively as prescribed by this Code;
8) To pay negotiation or attorney’s fees to the union or its officers or agents as part of the settlement of any issue in collective bargaining or any other dispute; or
9) To violate a collective bargaining agreement. (Article 259, Ibid.)

The provisions of the preceding paragraph notwithstanding, only the officers and agents of corporations, associations or partnerships who have actually participated in, authorized or ratified unfair labor practices shall be held criminally liable. (Paragraph 2, Article 259, Ibid.)

Ren Transport Corp. v. NLRC
G.R. No. 188020 and 188252, 27 June 2016
Violation of the duty to bargain collectively is an unfair labor practice under Article 258(g) of the Labor Code. An instance of this practice is the refusal to bargain collectively as held in General Milling Corp. v CA. In that case, the employer anchored its refusal to bargain with and recognize the union on several letters received by the former regarding the withdrawal of the workers’ membership from the union. We rejected the defense, saying that the employer had devised a flimsy excuse by attacking the existence of the union and the status of the union’s membership to prevent any negotiation.
It bears stressing that [the employer] Ren Transport had a duty to bargain collectively with [the exclusive bargaining agent] SMART. Under Article 263 in relation to Article 267 of the Labor Code, it is during the freedom period – or the last 60 days before the expiration of the CBA – when another union may challenge the majority status of the bargaining agent through the filing of a petition for a certification election. If there is no such petition filed during the freedom period, then the employer “shall continue to recognize the majority status of the incumbent bargaining agent where no petition for certification election is filed.”
In the present case, the facts are not up for debate. No petition for certification election challenging the majority status of SMART was filed during the freedom period, which was from November 1 to December 31, 2004 – the 60-day period prior to the expiration of the five-year CBA. SMART therefore remained the exclusive bargaining agent of the rank-and-file employees.
Given that SMART continued to be the workers’ exclusive bargaining agent, Ren Transport had the corresponding duty to bargain collectively with the former. Ren Transport’s refusal to do so constitutes an unfair labor practice.
Consequently, Ren Transport cannot avail itself of the defense that SMART no longer represents the majority of the workers. The fact that no petition for certification election was filed within the freedom period prevented Ren Transport from challenging SMART’s existence and membership.
Moreover, it must be stressed that, according to the labor arbiter, the purported disaffiliation from SMART was nothing but a convenient, self-serving excuse. This factual finding, having been affirmed by both the CA and the NLRC, is now conclusive upon the Court. We do not see any patent error that would take the instant case out of the general rule.
Ren Transport interfered with the exercise of the employees’ right to self-organize.
Interference with the employees’ right to self-organization is considered an unfair labor practice under Article 258 (a) of the Labor Code. In this case, the labor arbiter found that the failure to remit the union dues to SMART and the voluntary recognition of RTEA were clear indications of interference with the employees’ right to self-organization. It must be stressed that this finding was affirmed by the NLRC and the CA; as such, it is binding on the Court, especially when we consider that it is not tainted with any blatant error. As aptly pointed out by the labor arbiter, these acts were ill-timed in view of the existence of a labor controversy over membership in the union.
Ren Transport also uses the supposed disaffiliation from SMART to justify the failure to remit union dues to the latter and the voluntary recognition of RTEA. However, for reasons already discussed, this claim is considered a lame excuse that cannot validate those acts.

b. By labor organizations

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.)

4. Substantial evidence

To prove the existence of unfair labor practice, substantial evidence has to be presented. (SACORU v. CCBPI, G.R. No. 200499, 04 October 2017)

SACORU v. CCBPI
G.R. No. 200499, 04 October 2017
Here, the NLRC found that [the union] SACORU failed to provide the required substantial evidence, thus:
The union’s charge of ULP against respondent company cannot be upheld. The union’s mere allegation of ULP is not evidence, it must be supported by substantial evidence.
Thus, the consequent dismissal of twenty seven (27) regular members of the complainant’s union due to redundancy is not per se an act of unfair labor practice amounting to union busting. For while, the number of union membership was diminished due to the termination of herein union members, it cannot safely be said that respondent company acted in bad faith in terminating their services because the termination was not without a valid reason.
The CA ruled similarly and found that SACORU failed to support its allegation that CCBPI committed an unfair labor practice:
SACORU failed to proffer any proof that [the employer] CCBPI acted in a malicious or arbitrarily manner in implementing the redundancy program which· resulted in the dismissal of the 27 employees, and that CCBPI engaged instead the services of independent contractors. As no credible, countervailing evidence had been put forth by SACORU with which to challenge the validity of the redundancy program implemented by CCBPI, the alleged unfair labor practice acts allegedly perpetrated against union members may not be simply swallowed. SACORU was unable to prove its charge of unfair labor practice and support its allegations that the termination of the union members was done with the end-in-view of weakening union leadership and representation. There was no showing that the redundancy program was motivated by ill will, bad faith or malice, or that it was conceived for the purpose of interfering with the employees’ right to self-organize.
The Court accordingly affirms these findings of the NLRC and the CA that SACORU failed to present any evidence to prove that the redundancy program interfered with their right to self-organize.

a. Totality of circumstances

In determining whether an act of unfair labor practice was committed, the totality of the circumstances must be considered. (Adamson University Faculty and Employees Union v. Adamson University, G.R. No. 227070, 09 March 2020)

Adamson University Faculty and Employees Union v. Adamson University
G.R. No. 227070, 09 March 2020
In Great Pacific Life Employees Union v. Great Pacific Life Assurance Corporation, this Court discussed that if the unfair treatment does not relate to or affect the workers’ right to self-organize, it cannot be deemed unfair labor practice. A dismissal of a union officer is not necessarily discriminatory, especially when that officer committed an act of misconduct. In fact, union officers are held to higher standards:
While an act or decision of an employer may be unfair, certainly not every unfair act or decision constitutes unfair labor practice (ULP) as defined and enumerated under Art. 248 of the Labor Code.
There should be no dispute that all the prohibited acts constituting unfair labor practice in essence relate to the workers’ right to self-organization. Thus, an employer may be held liable under this provision of his conduct affects in whatever manner the right of an employee to self-organize. The decision of respondent GREPALIFE to consider the top officers of petitioner UNION as unfit for reinstatement is not essentially discriminatory and constitutive of an unlawful labor practice of employers under the above-cited provision. Discriminating in the context of the Code involves either encouraging membership in any labor organization or is made on account of the employee’s having given or being about to give testimony under the Labor Code. These have not been proved in the case at bar.

5. Liability

Consequently, unfair labor practices are not only violations of the civil rights of both labor and management but are also criminal offenses against the State which shall be subject to prosecution and punishment. (Paragraph 2, Article 258, Ibid.)

a. Civil aspect

1) Labor Arbiter’s Jurisdiction

Subject to the exercise by the President or by the Secretary of Labor and Employment of the powers vested in them by Articles 263 and 264 of this Code, the civil aspects of all cases involving unfair labor practices, which may include claims for actual, moral, exemplary and other forms of damages, attorney’s fees and other affirmative relief, shall be under the jurisdiction of the Labor Arbiters. The Labor Arbiters shall give utmost priority to the hearing and resolution of all cases involving unfair labor practices. They shall resolve such cases within thirty (30) calendar days from the time they are submitted for decision. (Paragraph 3, Article 258, Ibid.)

2) Bars recovery under the Civil Code

Recovery of civil liability in the administrative proceedings shall bar recovery under the Civil Code. (Paragraph 4, Article 258, Ibid.)

b. Criminal aspect

No criminal prosecution may be instituted without a final judgment finding that an unfair labor practice was committed, having been first obtained in the preceding paragraph. During the pendency of such administrative proceeding, the running of the period of prescription of the criminal offense herein penalized shall be considered interrupted: Provided, however, That the final judgment in the administrative proceedings shall not be binding in the criminal case nor be considered as evidence of guilt but merely as proof of compliance of the requirements therein set forth. (Paragraph 5, Article 258, Ibid.)

References

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)

Disclaimer: All information is for educational and general information only. These should not be taken as professional legal advice or opinion. Please consult a competent lawyer to address your specific concerns. Any statements or opinions of the author are solely his own and do not reflect that of any organization he may be connected.

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