Labor Law Models and Modern minds.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Manila Bulletin, May 4, 2002 | Go to article overview
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Labor Law Models and Modern minds.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)


(Editor?s note: The rights of the working class in RP were earned after a long struggle between 1902 and 1953 (enactment of RA 875). The 1987 Constitution does not confer a much lesser right on public servants.)

FRANKLIN Delano Roosevelt of New York was called a "traitor" to his class - the affluent class - for promoting the workers' rights and taking their side in the years of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt appointed pretty Frances Perkins - a social scientist, noted expert and liberal activist in labor relations and a graduate of Holyoke and Columbia U - the first woman labor secretary.

Modern labor's twin brothers, collective bargaining and right to self-organization, are creations of Roosevelt's brain trust that saw their formal birth after the enactment of the Wagner - Connery Act (National Labor Relations Act) in June 1935. The Wagner Act was called the Magna Carta of Labor; its major provisions and doctrines were copied by RP when it passed RA 875 (the Industrial Peace Act) in June 1953. Local labor decrees and legislation adopted the important principles of labor laws of the Roosevelt or New Deal era.

Old and new doctrines

The notions of unfair labor practice (ULP) and an elected union representative to bargain for members are found in the Wagner Act.

Last month, according to news reports (not the MB), a Malaca?ang staffer recommended the suspension of "negotiations and payments of collective negotiation agreements (CNA) of government employes effective March."

The new term "collective negotiation agreement" (CNA) is of recent coinage (after the 1987 Constitution) and trivializes the institution of "collective bargaining agreement" (CBA) as defined by respected social scientists before and after 1935.

This is like converting "due process" (a term supported by centuries of jurisprudence) into "proper process which has no meaning at all." Hypocrisy in the evolution of terms will not pay if the true intent is disclosed: CBA is an institution worth the respect of labor and management worldwide, while CNA is the product of a legal diminution (or incest) which is known only to a few thousand civil servants in RP.

Article IX-B-1 (5) of the Constitution states: "The right to self-organization shall not be denied to government employees."

Self-organization has a legal meaning in social and labor legislation and relation. This is the twin brother of CBA (CNA) without which the substantive right to self-organization cannot exist.

The act suspending a CNA by a mere recommendation or policy is also an act of suspending the public servants' right to self-organization.

Can a mere policy suspend a living constitutional provision? One or two staffers in our bureaucracy of 1.5-M employes lack the power to do it.

Policy vs.

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