Employment Status as Factor in Bargaining Units

Belyca Corp. v. Calleja; G.R. No. 77395: According to Rothenberg, a proper bargaining unit maybe said to be a group of employees of a given employer, comprised of all or less than all of the entire body of employees, which the collective interests of all the employees, consistent with equity to the employer, indicate to be best suited to serve reciprocal rights and duties of the parties under the collective bargaining provisions of the law (Rothenberg in Labor Relations, p. 482). This Court has already taken cognizance of the crucial issue of determining the proper constituency of a collective bargaining unit. Among the factors considered in Democratic Labor Association v. Cebu Stevedoring Co. Inc. (103 Phil 1103 [1958]) are: "(1) will of employees (Glove Doctrine); (2) affinity and unity of employee's interest, such as substantial similarity of work and duties or similarity of compensation and working conditions; (3) prior collective bargaining history; and (4) employment status, such as temporary, seasonal and probationary employees". Under the circumstances of that case, the Court stressed the importance of the fourth factor and sustained the trial court's conclusion that two separate bargaining units should be formed in dealing with respondent company, one consisting of regular and permanent employees and another consisting of casual laborers or stevedores. Otherwise stated, temporary employees should be treated separately from permanent employees. But more importantly, this Court laid down the test of proper grouping, which is community and mutuality of interest. Thus, in a later case, (Alhambra Cigar and Cigarette Manufacturing Co. et al. v. Alhambra Employees' Association 107 Phil. 28 [1960]) where the employment status was not at issue but the nature of work of the employees concerned; the Court stressed the importance of the second factor otherwise known as the substantial-mutual-interest test and found no reason to disturb the finding of the lower Court that the employees in the administrative, sales and dispensary departments perform work which has nothing to do with production and maintenance, unlike those in the raw leaf, cigar, cigarette and packing and engineering and garage departments and therefore community of interest which justifies the format or existence as a separate appropriate collective bargaining unit.
Still later in PLASLU v. CIR et al. (110 Phil. 180 [1960]) where the employment status of the employees concerned was again challenged, the Court reiterating the rulings, both in Democratic Labor Association v. Cebu Stevedoring Co. Inc. supra and Alhambra Cigar and Cigarette Co. et al. v. Alhambra Employees' Association (supra) held that among the factors to be considered are: employment status of the employees to be affected, that is the positions and categories of work to which they belong, and the unity of employees' interest such as substantial similarity of work and duties. In any event, whether importance is focused on the employment status or the mutuality of interest of the employees concerned "the basic test of an asserted bargaining unit's acceptability is whether or not it is fundamentally the combination which will best assure to all employees the exercise of their collective bargaining rights (Democratic Labor Association v. Cebu Stevedoring Co. Inc. supra) Hence, still later following the substantial-mutual interest test, the Court ruled that there is a substantial difference between the work performed by musicians and that of other persons who participate in the production of a film which suffice to show that they constitute a proper bargaining unit. (LVN Pictures, Inc. v. Philippine Musicians Guild, 1 SCRA 132 [1961]).

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