Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ferrer vs. NLRC

Facts: Petitioners were regular and permanent employees of the Occidental Foundry Corporation (OFC). The Samahang Manggagawa ng Occidental Foundry Corporation-Federation of Free Workers (SAMAHAN) and the OFC entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The agreement provides that a union member who fails to retain a membership of good standing may be dismissed by the employer upon written request by the union. 

Pursuant to this provision, herein petitioners were dismissed from employment on the ground of failure to retain membership in good standing. It was later on found out that the dismissal was due to an intra-union squabble arising out of the attempt by the petitioners to oust the elected union officials. 

Upon knowledge of their dismissal, petitioners volunteered to be admitted as members of the Federation of Democratic Labor Unions (FEDLU) who represented them before the DOLE in the complaint for illegal dismissal against the company, SAMAHAN and FFW. 

Issue: Whether or not petitioners failed to maintain membership in good standing by committing acts of disloyalty against SAMAHAN 

No. Petitioners sought the help of the FEDLU only after they had learned of the termination of their employment. Their alleged application with federations other than the FFW can hardly be considered as disloyalty to the SAMAHAN, nor may the filing of such applications denote that petitioners failed to maintain in good standing their membership in the SAMAHAN. The SAMAHAN is a different entity from FFW, the federation to which it belonged. Neither may it be inferred that petitioners sought disaffiliation from the FFW for petitioners had not formed a union distinct from that of the SAMAHAN. Parenthetically, the right of a local union to disaffiliate from a federation in the absence of any provision in the federation's constitution preventing disaffiliation of a local union is legal. Such right is consistent with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association. 

As to the propriety of the dismissal, the court said that while it is true that the CBA between OFC and the SAMAHAN provided for the dismissal of employees who have not maintained their membership in the union, the manner in which the dismissal was enforced left much to be desired in terms of respect for the right of petitioners to procedural due process. SAMAHAN did not conduct any investigation and hearing where petitioners could have defended themselves. Moreover, the company summarily dismissed petitioners upon request of the union officers without conducting their own investigation. 

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