Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Villar vs. Inciong

Facts: AEU under FUR attempted to have a certification election but due to the opposition of AEU-PAFLU, the petition was denied by the Med-Arbiter. 

AEU-PAFLU then called a special meeting among members and it was there decided that an investigation of certain people would be held pursuant to the constitution and by-laws of the Federation, of all of the petitioners and one Felipe Manlapao, for "continuously maligning, libelling and slandering not only the incumbent officers but even the union itself and the federation;" spreading 'false propaganda' that the union officers were 'merely appointees of the management', and for causing divisiveness in the union. 

A Trial Committee was then formed to investigate the local union's charges against the petitioners for acts of disloyalty. AEU-PAFLU and the Company concluded a new CBA which, besides granting additional benefits to the workers, also reincorporated the same provisions of the existing CBA, including the union security clause reading, to wit: 

All members of the UNION as of the signing of this Agreement shall remain members thereof in good standing. Therefore, any members who shall resign, be expelled, or shall in any manner cease to be a member of the UNION, shall be dismissed from his employment upon written request of the UNION to the Company. 2 

The petitioners were summoned to appear before the PAFLU Trial Committee for the aforestated investigation of the charges filed against them but they did not attend and instead requested for a "Bill of Particulars" of the charges which had been formalized by the AEU-PAFLU officers; they contend that their actions were merely exerise of the right to freedom of association. 

Not recognizing PAFLU's jurisdiction over their case, petitioners again refused to participate in the investigation rescheduled and conducted. Instead, they merely appeared to file their Answer to the charges and moved for a dismissal. 

Based on the findings and recommendations of the PAFLU trial committee, the PAFLU President found the petitioners guilty of the charges against them and it was requested that they be terminated in conformity with the security clause in the CBA. Meanwhile, they were placed under preventive suspension and denied access to the workplace. 

Issue: Whether or not the Minister acted with grave abuse of discretion when he affirmed the decision of the RO4-Officer-in-Charge allowing the preventive suspension and subsequent dismissal of petitioners by reason of the exercise of their right to freedom of association. 

Held: It is true that disaffiliation from a labor union is not open to legal objection. It is implicit in the freedom of association ordained by the Constitution. However, a closed shop is a valid form of union security, and such provision in a CBA is not a restriction of the right of freedom of association guaranteed by the Constitution. 

Here, the Company and the AEU-PAFLU entered into a CBA with a union security clause and the stipulation for closed-shop is clear and unequivocal and it leaves no room for doubt that the employer is bound, under the collective bargaining agreement, to dismiss the employees, herein petitioners, for non-union membership. 

Petitioners became non-union members upon their expulsion from the general membership of the AEU-PAFLU pursuant to the Decision of the PAFLU national president. 

PAFLU had the authority to investigate petitioners on the charges filed by their co-employees in the local union and after finding them guilty as charged, to expel them from the roll of membership under the constitution of the PAFLU to which the local union was affiliated. 

According to the OIC: dtripped of non-essentials, the basic and fundamental issue in this case tapers down to the determination of WHETHER OR NOT PAFLU HAD THE AUTHORITY TO INVESTIGATE OPPOSITORS AND, THEREAFTER, EXPEL THEM FROM THE ROLL OF MEMBERSHIP OF THE AMIGO EMPLOYEES UNION-PAFLU. 

Recognized and salutary is the principle that when a labor union affiliates with a mother union, it becomes bound by the laws and regulations of the parent organization. 

When a labor union affiliates with a parent organization or mother union, or accepts a charter from a superior body, it becomes subject to the laws of the superior body under whose authority the local union functions. The constitution, by-laws and rules of the parent body, together with the charter it issues pursuant thereto to the subordinate union, constitute an enforceable contract between the parent body and the subordinate union, and between the members of the subordinate union inter se. 

'Due process' simply means that the parties were given the opportunity to be heard. In the instant case, ample and unmistakable evidence exists to show that the oppositors were afforded the opportunity to present their evidence, but they themselves disdained or spurned the said opportunity given to them. 

Inherent in every labor union, or any organization, is the right of self-preservation. When members of a labor union, therefore, sow the seeds of dissension and strife within the union; when they seek the disintegration and destruction of the very union to which they belong, they thereby forfeit their rights to remain as members of the union which they seek to destroy. 

We, therefore, hold and rule that petitioners, although entitled to disaffiliate from their union and form a new organization of their own, must, however, suffer the consequences of their separation from the union under the security clause of the CBA. 

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