A labor union is any organization in the private sector that exists for collective bargaining, other legitimate purposes or dealing with employers concerning the terms and conditions of employment. (Art. 219(g), Labor Code, CA Azucena)
This should not be confused with labor organization. A labor organization is a broader term that can refer to a “union” or “association of employees,” whether registered or not. Workers may form a labor organization without the formalities of a union. (Articles 219 and 257, Labor Code)
What are the Purposes of Labor Unions? Or why do workers join?
The three primary reasons are: Collective bargaining, mutual aid, and cooperation.
Collective bargaining is a democratic framework that aims to stabilize the relationship between labor and management to create a climate of sound and stable industrial peace. This duty to stabilize is the mutual responsibility and legal obligation of both the employer and the union. (Loy vs. NLRC)
Below are other reasons why workers join labor unions.
Discontentment with wages. Some employee join or form a union if wages are below the community average (and workers know) and the problem is not recognized. With this, employees seek for someone to champion their cause. (Dartnell Personnel Administration Handbook)
Need to improve conditions. Some see working conditions as unsatisfactory and going through channels fails to bring any results. Employees cannot be blamed if they listen to the voice of an outside who promises to intercede in their behalf. (same source above)
Feelings of injustice. When employees feel that there is a need to go to someone for their grievances, they would seek a formal grievance procedure established for them. (same source above)
Lack of communication.
Despite the law’s support for forming labor unions, many employers do not favor it. “…employers would oppose the rise of labor organizations, some bitterly. Unions not only increase the power of employees to demand… and threaten profits; they also curtail the power.. to make unilateral decisions. Few persons like to surrender power…” (Harvard’s Cox and co-authors)
How Can a Labor Union be Legitimate?
Not all labor unions are legitimate. Only those properly registered are considered legitimate. Non-registration does not mean it is “illegitimate”; it simply means that it is “unregistered”, has no legal personality and does not possess the rights of a Legitimate Labor Organization (LLO). An unregistered LO can still deal with the employer, but it has no legal personality to demand collective bargaining with the employer.
To be legitimate, a Labor Union must be registered or reported with the DOLE in accordance with Rules III and IV of the implementing rules.
Does the registration requirement limit the constitutional right of assembly or association? No. The Supreme Court held in PAFLU vs. Sec. of Labor (L-2222) that this is merely a condition sine qua non for the acquisition of legal personality by labororganizations or unions. This is a valid exercise of police power because their activities affect public interest, which should be protected.
Where to register?
To register a labor union, one should file with and acted upon by the Regional Office where the applicant principally operates. Those that operate in more than one region shall be filed with the Regional Office but shall be acted upon by the Bureau which has national jurisdiction.
Under Rule III of the Rules Implementing Book V (D.O. No. 40-03), there are specific requirements for the following:
- Federation or National Union
- Industry Union
- Independent Labor Union
- Worker’s Assocation
- Chartered Local