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ALLIED FREE WORKERS’ UNION V.

COMPAÑIA MARITIMA - CELEBRADO


ALLIED FREE WORKERS' UNION
vs.
COMPAÑIA MARITIMA, Manager JOSE C. TEVES, and COURT OF INDUSTRIAL
RELATIONS
G.R. Nos. L-22951 | 31 January 1967 | En Banc | Bengzon, J.P., J.
FACTS:
MARITIMA entered into an arrastre and stevedoring contract with AFWU. MARITIMA com-
plained of unsatisfactory and inefficient service by the laborers doing the arrastre and steve-
doring work. MARITIMA was forced to hire extra laborers from among "stand-by" workers
not affiliated to any union to help. The wages of these extra laborers were paid by MARITIMA
and not by AFWU.
Then, AFWU presented to MARITIMA a written proposal for a collective bargaining agree-
ment. MARITIMA has no reply.
AFWU instituted proceedings in the Industrial Court praying that it be certified as the sole
and exclusive bargaining agent. MARITIMA alleged lack of employer-employee relationship
between the parties.
MARITIMA informed AFWU of the termination of the contract because of the inefficient ser-
vice. MARITIMA then contracted with the Iligan Stevedoring Union for the service.
AFWU charged MARITIMA before the Industrial Court of unfair labor practices. MARI-
TIMA denied the employer-employee relationship.
Members of AFWU, together with those of the Mindanao Workers Alliance (a sister union)
formed a picket line at the wharf of Iligan City, thus preventing the Iligan Stevedoring Union
from carrying out its work.
MARITIMA filed an action to rescind the CONTRACT. CFI ordered the rescission of the con-
tract.
MARITIMA engaged the services of the Mindanao Arrastre Service. However, AFWU labor-
ers were again back due to the preliminary injunction it got.
Upon motion of MARITIMA, the trial court issued a writ of execution ousting AFWU mem-
bers-laborers. Accordingly, MARITIMA was again able to engage the services of the Minda-
nao Arrastre Service.
ISSUE:
Whether or not AFWU is an employee of MARITIMA? (No.)
HELD:
NO. AFWU was an independent contractor not an "employee". Neither is there any direct
employment relationship between MARITIMA and the laborers. The latter have no separate
individual contracts with MARITIMA. In fact, the court a quo found that it was AFWU that
hired them. Their only possible connection with MARITIMA is through AFWU which con-
tracted with the latter. Hence, they could not possibly be in a better class than AFWU which
dealt with MARITIMA.
In this connection, it is interesting to note that the facts as found by the court a quo strongly
indicate that it is AFWU itself who is the "employer" of those laborers. The facts very suc-
cinctly show that it was AFWU, through its officers, which (1) selected and hired the laborers,
(2) paid their wages, (3) exercised control and supervision over them, and (4) had the power
to discipline and dismiss them. These are the very elements constituting an employer-em-
ployee relationship.
Of course there is no legal impediment for a union to be an "employer". Under the particular
facts of this case, however, AFWU appears to be more of a distinct and completely autono-
mous business group or association. Its organizational structure and operational system is
no different from other commercial entities on the same line. It even has its own bill collectors
and trucking facilities. And that it really is engaged in business is shown by the fact that it
had arrastre and stevedoring contracts with other shipping firms in Iligan City.