Ren Transport Corp. vs. National Labor Relations Commission
G.R. No. 188020/G.R. No. 188252. June 27, 2016
Violation of duty to bargain is Unfair Labor Practice (ULP)
Violation of the duty to bargain collectively is an unfair labor practice under Article 258 (g) of the Labor Code. An instance of this practice is the refusal to bargain collectively as held in General Milling Corp. v CA. In that case, the employer anchored its refusal to bargain with and recognize the union on several letters received by the former regarding the withdrawal of the workers’ membership from the union. We rejected the defense, saying that the employer had devised a flimsy excuse by attacking the existence of the union and the status of the union’s membership to prevent any negotiation.
Under Article 263 in relation to Article 267 of the Labor Code, it is during the freedom period -or the last 60 days before the expiration of the CBA when another union may challenge the majority status of the bargaining agent through the filing of a petition for a certification election. If there is no such petition filed during the freedom period, then the employer “shall continue to recognize the majority status of the incumbent bargaining agent where no petition for certification election is filed.”
No petition for certification election challenging the majority status of SMART was filed during the freedom period, which was from November 1 to December 31, 2004 -the 60-day period prior to the expiration of the five-year CBA. SMART therefore remained the exclusive bargaining agent of the rank-and-file employees.
Failure to remit union dues indicates interference with employee’s right to self-organization
Interference with the employees’ right to self-organization is considered an unfair labor practice under Article 258 (a) of the Labor Code. In this case, the labor arbiter found that the failure to remit the union dues to SMART and the voluntary recognition of RTEA were clear indications of interference with the employees’ right to self-organization.
Without petition for certification filed within the freedom period, the existence and membership of the union must be recognized
Consequently, Ren Transport cannot avail itself of the defense that SMART no longer represents the majority of the workers. The fact that no petition for certification election was filed within the freedom period prevented Ren Transport from challenging SMART’ s existence and membership.