Case Digest: T&H Shopfitters vs. THSGQ Union

G.R. No. 191714, February 26, 2014

T & H SHOPFITTERS CORPORATION/GIN QUEEN CORPORATION, STINNES HUANG, BEN HUANG AND ROGELIO MADRIAGA, Petitioners, v. T & H SHOPFITTERS CORPORATION/GIN QUEEN WORKERS UNION, ELPIDIO ZALDIVAR, DARIOS GONZALES, WILLIAM DOMINGO, BOBBY CASTILLO, JIMMY M. PASCUA, GERMANO M. BAJO, RICO L. MANZANO, ALLAN L. CALLORINA, ROMEO BLANCO, GILBERT M. GARCIA, CARLOS F. GERILLO, EDUARDO A. GRANDE, EDILBRANDO MARTICIO, VIVENCIO SUSANO, ROLANDO GARCIA, JR., MICHAEL FABABIER, ROWELL MADRIAGA, PRESNIL TOLENTINO, MARVIN VENTURA, FRANCISCO RIVARES, PLACIDO TOLENTINO AND ROLANDO ROMERO, Respondents.

MENDOZA, J.:


FACTS:

Respondents are all employees of petitioner. In their desire to improve working conditions, they formed THS-GQ Union. A day after their meeting, Seventeen (17) employees were barred from entering petitioners factory premises located in Castillejos, Zambales, and ordered to transfer to T&H Shopfitters warehouse at Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) purportedly because of its expansion. Afterwards, the said seventeen (17) employees were repeatedly ordered to go on forced leave due to the unavailability of work. Respondents contended that the affected employees were not given regular work assignments, while subcontractors were continuously hired to perform their functions. The union filed a petition for certification election.

On October 10, 2004, petitioners sponsored a field trip to Iba, Zambales, for its employees. The officers and members of the THSGQ Union were purportedly excluded from the field trip. On the evening of the field trip, a certain Angel Madriaga, a sales officer of petitioners, campaigned against the union in the forthcoming certification election. The following day or on October 11, 2004, the employees were escorted from the field trip to the polling center in Zambales to cast their votes. On October 13, 2004, the remaining employees situated at the SBFZ plant cast their votes as well. Due to the heavy pressure exerted by petitioners, the votes for no union prevailed.

Respondents averred that the following week after the certification elections were held, petitioners retrenched THGGQ Union officers and members assigned at the Zambales plant. Petitioners claimed due to the decrease in orders from its customers, they had to resort to cost cutting measures to avoid anticipated financial losses. Thus, it assigned work on a rotational basis. It was of the impression that the employees, who opposed its economic measures, were merely motivated by spite in filing the complaint for ULP against it.

LA found no basis on the complaint. Decision was reversed by NLRC. On appeal, the CA affirmed the decision. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether or not Petitioners committed Unfair Labor Practice


HELD: Yes. CA decision sustained

Labor Law: Acts which transgress right to self-organization essential element of ULP


The questioned acts of petitioners, namely: 1) sponsoring a field trip to Zambales for its employees, to the exclusion of union members, before the scheduled certification election; 2) the active campaign by the sales officer of petitioners against the union prevailing as a bargaining agent during the field trip; 3) escorting its employees after the field trip to the polling center; 4) the continuous hiring of subcontractors performing respondents functions; 5) assigning union members to the Cabangan site to work as grass cutters; and 6) the enforcement of work on a rotational basis for union members, all reek of interference on the part of petitioners.

Indubitably, the various acts of petitioners, taken together, reasonably support an inference that, indeed, such were all orchestrated to restrict respondents free exercise of their right to selforganization. The Court is of the considered view that petitioners undisputed actions prior and immediately before the scheduled certification election, while seemingly innocuous, unduly meddled in the affairs of its employees in selecting their exclusive bargaining representative.

An employer has no concern with the certification election except when the employer itself had to file the petition but after that, an employer should only be a bystander. Thus, petitioners had no business persuading and/or assisting its employees in their legally protected independent process of selecting their exclusive bargaining representative. The fact and peculiar timing of the field trip sponsored by petitioners for its employees not affiliated with THSGQ Union, although a positive enticement, was undoubtedly extraneous influence designed to impede respondents in their quest to be certified. This cannot be countenanced.

Not content with achieving a no union vote in the certification election, petitioners launched a vindictive campaign against union members by assigning work on a rotational basis while subcontractors performed the latters functions regularly. Worse, some of the respondents were made to work as grass cutters in an effort to dissuade them from further collective action. Again, this cannot be countenanced.

In fine, mindful of the nature of the charge of ULP, including its civil and/or criminal consequences, the Court finds that the NLRC, as correctly sustained by the CA, had sufficient factual and legal bases to support its finding of ULP.

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