May a new labor union be organized and granted registration during the lifetime of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the company and another union?chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
This is the simple query brought before this Court by Petitioner Katipunan ng mga Manggagawa sa Daungan (KAMADA) via a petition 1 for certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the Order 2 dated February 27, 1992 of Public Respondent Pura Ferrer-Calleja, Director of the Bureau of Labor Relations (BLR), in BLR Case No. A-4-12-91 (NCR-OD-M-90-10-007) which reversed the resolution 3 of Med-Arbiter Edgardo De la Cruz. Public respondent disposed as follows: 4
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Office having found that no ground exists for the cancellation of the union registration of ASTEOU [sic], the decision of Med-Arbiter de la Cruz is hereby reversed. Let, therefore, the certificate of registration of ASTEOU [sic] (Associated Skilled and Technical Employees Union of OTSI) be reinstated in the registry of Unions."cralaw virtua1aw library
The subsequent "appeal" filed by the counsel for the petitioner was treated as a motion for reconsideration and denied in the other assailed Order 5 dated March 20, 1992. Hence, this petition before us.
Petitioner claims to be the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for all workers in Ocean Terminal Services, Inc. (OTSI). 6 After a certification election, it concluded a collective bargaining agreement with the company. Soon thereafter, in September 1990, private respondent union (ASTEUO) — allegedly composed also of OTSI workers — was registered.
Upon learning of such fact, Petitioner KAMADA filed a suit to cancel the registration of ASTEUO on the ground that the latter’s members were already covered by the existing collective bargaining agreement. Private respondent, on the other hand, claimed that its existence as a union could not be disturbed, as its registration was made during the freedom period when there was no collective bargaining agreement concluded as yet.
Private respondent’s registration was cancelled by the med-arbiter in his resolution dated November 27, 1990, finding that the "organization of another union covering the same workers can no longer be considered as a labor protective [sic] activity under P.D. 1391" 7 and that "this will even be against the present policy of one union in one company." 8
Private respondent appealed to the Bureau of Labor Relations. As earlier stated, Public respondent Pura Ferrer-Calleja, director of the said office, reversed the decision of the med-arbiter and denied the subsequent motion for reconsideration.
Petitioner accuses public respondent of "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction and gross ignorance of the law." It argues that private respondent, contrary to Section 4 (f), Rule II, Book V of the Rules Implementing the Labor Code, obtained its union registration "beyond the last sixty (60) days of the existing CBA," and "after participating in the certification election" where it lost.
More specifically, petitioner raises in its Memorandum dated May 3, 1993, the following three grounds to reverse public respondent’s Order: 9
"1. That there was already an existing certified bargaining agent when it obtained its registration;
"2. The same cannot be considered as a labor productive activity under PD 1391; and
"3. It is against the policy of one union in one company."cralaw virtua1aw library
The Court’s Ruling
Petitioner’s contentions are utterly devoid of merit.
First Issue: Timeliness of Registration
We quote hereunder public respondent’s disquisition which clearly shows the untenable position of petitioner: 10
"A perusal of the arguments advanced in this suit shows that some clarification is necessary regarding the present laws on union registration. First, nowhere does the law contemplate or even intimate that once a union of a bargaining unit has registered with the DOLE, this prevents all other would-be union from registering. The reasons are obvious. To establish such a rule would render superflous (sic) certification elections, and would establish in perpetuity anyone who had the good fortune, means or scheme to beat everyone else to the punch. Second, in order to establish order and effectively exercise this right, certain policies have been instituted. One such policy, taken from letter (f) of Section 4 of Rule II of Book V of the Implementing Rules of the Labor Code, is that applications for union registration are not valid if filed within one year from certification elections and/or are done during the effectivity of a CBA unless filed within the freedom period.
"Anent the above, and the facts of this case, ASTEOU’s [sic] union registration issued last September, 1990 cannot be assailed. The period of prohibition of union registration in relation to certification elections starts from the final proclamation of certification election results in a final decision of the DOLE or the Supreme Court. In the present case, the Order of the Secretary of DOLE was issued last October 31, 1990, a month after the registration of ASTEOU [sic]. Moreover, KAMADA’s previous CBA expired on March 23, 1989, while its new CBA was not signed until April 25, 1991."cralaw virtua1aw library
It is settled that factual findings of quasi-judicial agencies, like the Labor Department, 11 which have acquired expertise in matters entrusted to their jurisdiction are accorded by this Court not only respect but finality if supported by substantial evidence. Substantial evidence refers to that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. 12
In this case, the findings of the public respondent, particularly those on the dates of the registration and the signing of the CBA, are supported by substantial evidence. In fact, petitioner does not even contradict these findings.
Having ruled on the factual findings, we now take up the relevant labor regulations. Section 3, Rule V, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code, 13 prohibits not the registration of a new union but the holding of a certification election "within one year from the date of issuance of a final certification election result." Clearly, private respondent’s registration is not covered by the prohibition. In any event, the union registration was effected in September 1990, a month before the secretary of labor issued his decision on the result of the certification election on October 31, 1990. Hence, there was yet no certified bargaining agent when the private respondent was registered as a union.
Second Issue: Labor Productive Activity
Petitioner argues that private respondent’s registration cannot be considered a "labor productive activity" under PD 1391, specifically under paragraph 6 thereof which reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"6. No petitions for certification election, for intervention or disaffiliation shall be entertained or given due course except within the 60-day freedom period immediately preceding the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement."cralaw virtua1aw library
Very clearly, the foregoing provision does not help petitioner. It has nothing to do with the registration of a union. It deals only with petitions for certification election, intervention or disaffiliation and not — we hazard being redundant — to applications for registration of a new union.
Third Issue: One Union in One Company
As regards petitioner’s battle cry of "one union in one company," this Court has already laid down in Knitjoy Manufacturing, Inc. v. Ferrer-Calleja 14 the exceptions to that policy. The Court, through Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"1. The suggested bias of the Labor Code in favor of the one company-one union policy, anchored on the greater mutual benefits which the parties could derive, especially in the case of employees whose bargaining strength could undeniably be enhanced by their unity and solidarity but diminished by their disunity, division and dissension, is not without exceptions.
"The present Article 245 of the Labor Code expressly allows supervisory employees who are not performing managerial functions to join, assist or form their separate union but bars them from membership in a labor organization of the rank-and-file employees. It reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"‘ART. 245. Ineligibility of managerial employees to join any labor organization; right of supervisory employees. — Managerial employees are not eligible to join, assist or form any labor organization. Supervisory employees shall not be eligible for membership in a labor organization of the rank-and-file employees but may join, assist or form separate labor organizations of their own.’
"This provision obviously allows more than one union in a company.
"Even Section 2 (c), Rule V, Book V of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Labor Code, which seeks to implement the policy, also recognizes exceptions. It reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"‘SEC. 2. Who may file. — Any legitimate labor organization or the employer, when requested to bargain collectively, may file the petition.
"‘The petition, when filed by a legitimate labor organization shall contain, among others:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
x x x
"‘(c) description of the bargaining unit which shall be the employer unit unless circumstances otherwise require; . . .’ (Emphasis supplied
"‘The usual exception, of course, is where the employer unit has to give way to the other units like the craft unit, plant unit, or a subdivision thereof; the recognition of these exceptions takes into account the policy to assure employees of the fullest freedom in exercising their rights. (PASCUAL. C., Labor Relations Law, 1986, ed., 109) Otherwise stated, the one company-one union policy must yield to the right of the employees to form unions or associations for purposes not contrary to law, to self-organization and to enter into collective bargaining negotiations, among others, which the Constitution guarantees. (Section 8, Article III and Section 3, Article XIII, 1987 Constitution).’"
Moreover, the issue of which union truly represents the working force should be raised during the certification election, not during the registration period. Indeed, a certification election provides the most effective and expeditious mode to determine the real representatives of the working force in the appropriate bargaining unit. 15 It may be well to add that Section 5, Rule II, Book V 16 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code, enumerates the grounds for the denial of registration to local unions, and the existence of another union is not one of these grounds.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for utter lack of merit. Double costs against the petitioner.chanrobles virtual lawlibrary
, Davide, Jr., Melo and Francisco, JJ.
1. Rollo, pp. 7-13.
2. Ibid., pp. 48-51.
3. Ibid., pp. 45-47.
4. Ibid., p. 51.
5. Ibid., p. 52.
6. Petitioner claims to have a local affiliate in OTSI, the Skilled Manpower Employees’ Union or SMEU. Public respondent, however, averred that such affiliate was not a registered labor union and only petitioner was registered as an independent union.
7. Entitled "Amending Book V of the Labor Code of the Philippines to Insure Speedy Labor Justice and Further Stabilize Industrial Peace" and approved on May 29, 1978.
8. Resolution dated November 27, 1990, p. 3; rollo, p. 47.
9. Memorandum, p. 1; rollo, p. 124.
10. Rollo, pp. 50-51.
11. Philippine Scout Veterans Security and Investigation Agency v. Torres, 224 SCRA 682, 687, July 21, 1993.
12. Sebuguero v. National Labor Relations Commission, 248 SCRA 532, September 27, 1995; Mina v. National Labor Relations Commission, 246 SCRA 229, July 14, 1995; Militante v. National Labor Relations Commission, 246 SCRA 365, July 14, 1995; Vallende v. National Labor Relations Commission, 245 SCRA 662, July 7, 1995; Association of Marine Officers and Seamen of Reyes and Lim Co v. Laguesma, 239 SCRA 460, December 27, 1994. See also Aboitiz Shipping Corporation v. Dela Serna, G.R. No. 88538, 199 SCRA 568 (1991); Loadstar Shipping Co., Inc., v. Gallo, G.R. No. 102845, February 4, 1994 and PAL Employees’ Association v. Ferrer-Calleja, 162 SCRA 426, June 22, 1988.
13. "Sec. 3. When to file. — In the absence of a collective bargaining agreement duly registered in accordance with Article 231 of the Code, a petition for certification election may be filed at any time. However, no certification election may be held within one year from the date of issuance of a final certification election result. Neither may a representation question be entertained if, before the filing of a petition for certification election, a bargaining deadlock to which an incumbent or certified bargaining agent is a party had been submitted to conciliation or arbitration or had become the subject of valid notice of strike or lockout.
"If a collective bargaining agreement has been duly registered in accordance with Article 231 of the Code, a petition for certification election or a motion for intervention can only be entertained within sixty (60) days prior to the expiry date of such agreement."cralaw virtua1aw library
14. 214 SCRA 174, 180-182, September 23, 1992.
15. National Mines and Allied Workers Union v. Secretary of Labor, 227 SCRA 821, November 16, 1991, citing Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, 201 SCRA 584, September 13, 1991, and National Association of Free Trade Unions v. Bureau of Labor Relations, 164 SCRA 12, August 3, 1988.
16. "Sec. 5. Denial of registration of local unions. — The Regional Office or the Bureau may deny the application for registration on grounds of non-compliance with the requirements enumerated in Section 4 hereof.
"The decision of the Regional Office or the Bureau denying the application for registration shall be in writing, stating in clear terms the reasons therefor. A copy thereof shall be furnished the applicant union."