E. Unfair Labor Practices

Frequency: ★★★★★

1. Nature, aspects

a. Concept

Unfair labor practice refers to acts that violate the workers’ right to organize. 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 only be held liable for unfair labor practice if it can be shown that his acts affect in whatever manner the right of his employees to self-organize. (Zambrano v. Philippine Carpet Manufacturing Corporation, G.R. No. 224099, 21 June 2017)

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 [247], Labor Code)

All the prohibited acts constituting unfair labor practice in essence relate to the workers’ right to self-organization. The 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. Officers of the Manila Water Employees Union [MWEU], G.R. No. 201595, 25 January 2016)

The prohibited acts considered as ULP relate to the workers’ right to self-organization and to the observance of a CBA. It refers to “acts that violate the workers’ right to organize.” Without that element, the acts, even if unfair, are not ULP. Thus, an employer may only be held liable for unfair labor practice if it can be shown that his acts affect in whatever manner the right of his employees to self-organize. (Bankard, Inc. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 171664, 06 March 2013)

Unfair labor practice refers to acts that violate the workers’ right to organize. The prohibited acts are related to the workers’ right to self-organization and to the observance of a CBA. Without that element, the acts, no matter how unfair, are not unfair labor practices. The only exception is Article 248(f) [now Article 257(f)] [i.e. “to dismiss, discharge or otherwise prejudice or discriminate against an employee for having given or being about to give testimony under this Code]. (Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. v. Molon, G.R. No. 175002, 18 February 2013)

b. Civil action

Unfair labor practices are violations of the civil rights of both labor and management. (Paragraph 2, Article 258 [247], Ibid.)

1) Civil aspects under 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 [247], Ibid.)

Recovery of civil liability in the administrative proceedings shall bar recovery under the Civil Code. (Paragraph 4, Article 258 [247], Ibid.)

2) Substantial evidence

To prove the existence of unfair labor practice, substantial evidence has to be presented. (San Fernando Coca-Cola Rank-and-File Union [SACORU] v. Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. [CCBPI], G.R. No. 200499, 04 October 2017)

c. Criminal offense

Unfair labor practices are also criminal offenses against the State which shall be subject to prosecution and punishment as herein provided. (Paragraph 2, Article 258 [247], Ibid.)

1) Pre-requisite for criminal prosecution

No criminal prosecution under this Title may be instituted without a final judgment finding that an unfair labor practice was committed, having been first obtained in the preceding paragraph [i.e. labor case for unfair labor practice]. (Paragraph 2, Article 258 [247], Ibid.)

2) Interrupts prescription for criminal offense

3) Final judgment of labor case

a) Not binding on criminal offense

b) Not evidence of guilt

c) Only as proof of compliance of Labor Code requirement

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 2, Article 258 [247], Ibid.)

•••••

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question B.18, Part II, Labor Law, 2019 Bar Exam)

When resolving a case of unfair labor practice (ULP) filed by a union, what should be the critical point of analysis to determine if an act constitutes ULP? (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

The critical point of analysis would be to determine if the acts complained violate the workers’ right to organize. Unfair labor practice refers to acts that violate the workers’ right to organize. The prohibited acts are related to the workers’ right to self-organization and to the observance of a CBA. Without that element, the acts, no matter how unfair, are not unfair labor practices.

•••••

2. By employers

a. Unfair Labor Practices of 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 this 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 Code 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 [248], Ibid.)

b. Who may be criminally liable

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 [248], Ibid.)

•••••

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question XIX, Labor Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

Northeast Airlines sent notices of transfer, without diminution in salary or rank, to 50 ground crew personnel who were front-liners at Northeast Airlines counters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The 50 employees were informed that they would be distributed to various airports in Mindanao to anticipate robust passenger volume growth in the area. North Union, representing rank-and-file employees, filed unfair labor practice and illegal dismissal cases before the NLRC, citing, among others, the inconvenience of the 50 concerned employees and union discrimination, as 8 of the 50 concerned ground crew personnel were union officers. Also, the Union argued that Northeast Airlines could easily hire additional employees from Mindanao to boost its ground operations in the Mindanao airports.

b) Will the unfair labor practice case prosper? (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. Answer

Under the Labor Code, unfair labor practice refers to acts that violate the workers’ right to organize. In labor law jurisprudence, the employer has management prerogative to regulate all aspects of employment, which includes the right to transfer employees. Rule

In the case at bar, the Company validly exercised its management prerogative to transfer the 50 employees for legitimate business reason, which was in anticipation of robust passenger volume growth in Mindanao. This did not constitute or amount to a violation of the workers’ right to organize. Apply

Thus, the unfair labor practice case will not prosper. Conclusion

•••••

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question XX, Labor Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

In Northern Lights Corporation, union members Nad, Ned, and Nod sought permission from the company to distribute flyers with respect to a weekend union activity. The company HR manager granted the request through a text message sent to another union member, Norlyn.

While Nad, Ned, and Nod were distributing the flyers at the company assembly plant, a company supervisor barged in and demanded that they cease from distributing the flyers, stating that the assembly line employees were trying to beat a production deadline and were thoroughly distracted. Norlyn tried to show the HR manager’s text message authorizing flyer distribution during work hours, but the supervisor brushed it aside.

As a result, Nad, Ned, and Nod were suspended for violating company rules on trespass and highly-limited union activities during work hours. The Union filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) case before the NLRC for union discrimination.

a) Will the ULP case filed by the Union prosper? (2.5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

No. Answer

Under the Labor Code, unfair labor practice refers to acts that violate the workers’ right to organize, such as to interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization. Rule

In the case at bar, the distribution of the flyers was being done during work hours, the assembly line employees were trying to beat a production deadline, and they were thoroughly distracted. The Company supervisor had thus legitimate reasons for stopping the distribution of flyers as it was not the proper time to do so. The said supervisor was not stopping the workers right to self-organize that would constitute unfair labor practice. Apply

Thus, the ULP case filed by the Union will not prosper. Conclusion

•••••

3. By labor organizations

a. Unfair Labor Practices of 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 [249], Ibid.)

b. Who may be criminally liable

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 [249], Ibid.)

Disclaimer: All information herein is for educational and general information only intended for those preparing for the bar exam. 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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