Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vassar Industries Employees Union (VIEU), vs. Estrella

Facts: There was in existence a collective bargaining agreement between private respondents Associated Labor Unions and Vassar Industries, Inc. which expired on May 15, 1977. Prior to such date, 111 of a total number of 150 employees of such firm disaffiliated from the former labor organization and formed their own union. Thereafter, they filed an application for registration of their union with the Bureau of Labor Relations, complying with an the requirements of both the Labor Code and its implementing regulations. While such application was pending, petitioner Union filed a petition for certification as bargaining agent for the rank-and-file employees of the company. The Med-Arbiter, on May 24, 1977, denied their plea on the ground that the union was not duly registered with the Department of Labor. Then came a motion for reconsideration praying that the dismissal be set aside until action be taken on its pending application for registration. 

On July 5, 1977, respondent Estrella, then Acting Director of the Bureau of Labor Relations, denied, as previously noted, the application for registration "on the ground that there is a registered collective bargaining agent in the company." Hence this petition. 

Issue: Whether or not the refusal of respondent Francisco L. Estrella, then the Acting Director of the Bureau of Labor Relations, to register petitioner Vassar Industries Employees Union was proper 

Held: NO. Petitioner Union should be registered, there being no legal obstacle to such a step and the duty of the Bureau of Labor Relations being clear in this regard. "Once the fact of disaffiliation has been demonstrated beyond doubt, as in this case, a certification election is the most expeditious way of determining which labor organization is to be the exclusive bargaining representative." 

In U.E. Automotive Employees and Workers Union v. Noriel, reference was made to the fact that a notable feature of our Constitution is that "freedom of association is explicitly ordained; it is not merely derivative, peripheral or penumbral, as is the case in the United States. It can trace its origin to the Malolos Constitution." In Pan American World Airways, Inc. v. Pan American Employees Association: "There is both a constitutional and statutory recognition that laborers have the right to form unions to take care of their interests vis-a-viz their employees. Their freedom to form organizations would be rendered nugatory if they could not choose their own leaders to speak on their behalf and to bargain for them." It cannot be otherwise, for the freedom to choose which labor organization to join is an aspect of the constitutional mandate of protection to labor. Prior to the Industrial Peace Act, there was a statute setting for the guidelines for the registration of labor unions.” 

Furthermore, the Court in Philippine Labor Alliance Council v. Bureau of Labor Relations held that: "It is indisputable that the present controversy would not have arisen if there were no mass disaffiliation from petitioning union. Such a phenomenon is nothing new in the Philippine labor movement. Nor is it open to any legal objection. It is implicit in the freedom of association explicitly ordained by the Constitution. There is then the incontrovertible right of any individual to join an organization of his choice. That option belongs to him. A workingman is not to be denied that liberty. He may be, as a matter of fact, more in need of it the institution of collective bargaining as an aspect of industrial democracy is to succeed. No obstacle that may possibly thwart the desirable objective of militancy in labor's struggle for better terms and conditions is then to be placed on his way. Once the fact of disaffiliation has been demonstrated beyond doubt, as in this case, a certification election is the most expeditious way of determining which labor organization is to be the exclusive bargaining representative. It is as simple as that." 


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