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G.R. No. 141471.

September 18, 2000

During the renegotiation of the respondent unions Collective Bargaining Agreement
with the petitioner, Eleonor Ambas emerged as the newly elected President of the union.
Ambas wanted to continue the renegotiation of the CBA but petitioner, through Fr.
Edwin Lao, claimed that the CBA was already prepared for signing by the parties.
However, the union members rejected the said CBA. Thereafter, petitioner accused the
union officers of bargaining in bad faith before the NLRC. The Labor Arbiter decided in
favor of the petitioner. This decision was reversed on appeal with the NLRC.
The parties later agreed to disregard the unsigned CBA and to start negotiation on new
five-year CBA. During the pendency of approval of proposals, Ambas was informed that
her work schedule was being changed. Ambas protested and requested management to
submit the issue to a grievance machinery under the old CBA.
After the petitioners inaction on the CBA, the union filed a notice to strike. After
meeting with the NCMB to discuss the ground rules for renegotiation, Ambas received a
letter dismissing her for alleged insubordination. The petitioner then ceased
negotiations when it received news that another labor organization had filed a petition
for certification.
The union finally struck, but the Secretary of Labor and Employment ordered them to
return to work and for petitioner to accept them back. The Secretary of Labor and
Employment later rendered judgement that the petitioner had been guilty of unfair
labor practice. The Court of Appeals affirmed the findings of the former.
1. Whether petitioner is guilty of unfair labor practice by refusing to bargain with
the union when it unilaterally suspended the ongoing negotiations for a new
CBA; and
2. Whether the termination of the union president amounts to an interference of the
employees right to self-organization.

The Supreme Court found the petition unmeritorious.

1. The petitioners failure to act upon the submitted CBA proposal within the tenday period exemplified in Article 250 of the Labor Code is a clear violation of the
governing procedure of collective bargaining. As the Court has held in Kiok Loy
vs. NLRC, the companys refusal to make counter-proposal to the unions
proposed CBA is an indication of bad faith. Moreover, the succeeding events are
obvious signs that the petitioner had merely been employing delaying tactics to
the passage of the proposed CBA. Moreover, in order to allow the employer to
validly suspend the bargaining process, there must be a valid petition for
certification election raising a legitimate representation issue. Hence, the mere
filing of a petition for certification election does not ipso facto justify the
suspension of negotiation by the employer.
2. The factual backdrop of the termination of Ambas led the Court to no other
conclusion that she was dismissed in order to strip the union of a leader who
would fight for the right of her co-workers in the bargaining table. While the
Court recognizes the right of the employer to terminate the services of an
employee for a just or authorized cause, nevertheless, the dismissal of employees
must be made within the parameters of aw and pursuant to the tenets of equity
and fair play. Even assuming arguendo that Ambas was guilty of
insubordination, such disobedience was not a valid ground to terminate her
employment. When the exercise of the management to discipline its employees
tends to interfere with the employees right to self-organization, it amounts to
union-busting and is therefore a prohibited act.