PAFLU v. Bureau of Labor Relations [GR L-43760, 21 August 1976]
Second Division, Fernando (p): 4 concur
Facts: In the certification election held on 27 February 1976, Union obtained 429 votes as against 414 of Union. Again, admittedly, under the Rules and Regulations implementing the present Labor Code, a majority of the valid votes cast suffices for certification of the victorious labor union as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent. There were 4 votes cast by employees who did not want any union. On its face therefore, Union ought to have been certified in accordance with the above applicable rule. Petitioner, undeterred, cited the doctrine in Allied Workers Association of the Philippines v. CIR that spoiled ballots should be counted in determining the valid votes cast. Considering there were 17 spoiled ballots, it is the submission that there was a grave abuse of discretion on the part of Director. Implicit in the comment of Director of Labor Relations, considered as an answer, is the controlling weight to be accorded the implementing rule.
The Supreme Court dismissed the petition, with costs against petitioner PAFLU.
- Essence of the certification process
The essence of the certification process is that every labor organization be given the opportunity in a free and honest election to make good its claim that it should be the exclusive collective bargaining representative (Lakas Ng Manggagawang Pilipino v. Benguet Consolidated, Inc.) In the case at bar, PAFLU was given the opportunity but lost in a fair election. The implementing rule favors the Union, as it obtained a majority of the valid votes cast, as the law prescribed.
- Representative certified as long as it attains majority of the valid votes, and not majority of all employees
It is a well-settled rule that a representative will be certified even though less than a majority of all the employees in the unit cast ballots in favor of the union. It is enough that the union be designated by a majority of the valid ballots, and this is so even though only a small proportion of the eligible voters participates.
- Collective Bargaining Regime is part of the objective of industrialization; Preventing a protracted process
The objective of industrialization – which can only thrive if there is a stable structure of law and order in the productive sector developed – is best attained in a collective bargaining regime, which is a manifestation of industrial democracy at work, if there be no undue obstacles placed in the way of the choice of a bargaining representative. To insist on the absolute majority where there are various unions and where the possibility of invalid ballots may not be ruled out, would be to frustrate that goal. For the probability of a long drawn-out, protracted process is not easy to dismiss. It is to avoid such a contingency that there is this explicit pronouncement in the implementing rule. It speaks categorically, it must therefore be obeyed.
- Allied Workers case not controlling; cannot be basis for abuse of discretion
The doctrine or pronouncement of the Court in Allied Workers Association case provides that spoiled ballots, i.e., those which are defaced, torn or marked (Rules for Certification Elections, Rule II, sec. 2[j]) should be counted in determining the majority since they are nevertheless votes cast by those who are qualified to do so. These rules were promulgated under the authority of the then prevailing Industrial Peace Act, which is no longer in force, having been superseded by the present Labor Code which took effect on 1 November 1974. In the case at bar, the certification election is governed by the present Labor Code and the Rules issued thereunder. There is no showing that the rules conflict with the governing statute, and thus, the Director must be upheld as he merely complied with the rules when he considered only the “valid votes.”
- Construction placed by the office charged with implementing and enforcing the provisions of a Code should be given controlling weight.
The principle that the contemporaneous construction of a statute by the executive officers of the government, whose duty it is to execute it, is entitled to great respect, and should ordinarily control the construction of the statute by the courts, is so firmly embedded in our jurisprudence that no authorities need be cited to support it (Pennoyer v. McConnaughy). Courts will and should respect the contemporaneous construction placed upon a statute by the executive officers whose duty it is to enforce it, and unless such interpretation is clearly erroneous will ordinarily be controlled thereby (Molina v. Rafferty).