Political Law

Benjamin Victoriano vs Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union

image_printPrint this!

G.R. No. L-25246 – 59 SCRA 54 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Declaration of State Policies – Primacy of the Constitution over Contractual Rights – Religious Freedom

Benjamin Victoriano, an Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) member, has been an employee of the Elizalde Rope Factory (ERF) since 1958. He was also a member of the EPWU (Elizalde Rope Workers’ Union). Under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between ERF and EPWU, a close shop agreement is being enforced which means that employment in the factory relies on the membership in the EPWU; that in order to retain employment in the said factory one must be a member of the said Union. In 1962, Victoriano tendered his resignation from EPWU claiming that as per RA 3350 he is an exemption to the close shop agreement by virtue of his being a member of the INC because apparently in the INC, one is forbidden from being a member of any labor union. It was only in 1974 that his resignation from the Union was acted upon by EPWU which notified ERF about it. ERF then moved to terminate Victoriano due to his non-membership from the EPWU. EPWU and ERF reiterated that he is not exempt from the close shop agreement because RA 3350, which provides that close shop agreements shall not cover members of any religious sects which prohibit affiliation of their members in any such labor organization, is unconstitutional and that said law violates the EPWU’s and ERF’s legal/contractual rights.

ISSUE: Whether or not RA 3350 is unconstitutional.

HELD: No.┬áThe right to religion prevails over contractual or legal rights. As such, an INC member may refuse to join a labor union and despite the fact that there is a close shop agreement in the factory where he was employed, his employment could not be validly terminated for his non-membership in the majority therein. Further, the right to join a union includes the right not to join a union. The law is not unconstitutional. It recognizes both the rights of unions and employers to enforce terms of contracts and at the same time it recognizes the workers’ right to join or not to join union. RA 3550┬árecognizes as well the primacy of a constitutional right over a contractual right.

Read full text

image_printPrint this!

Leave a Reply