RESPONDENT Temic Automotive Philippines, Inc. Employees Union-FFW is the exclusive bargaining agent of the petitioner's rank-and-file employees.

By practice since 1998, the petitioner contracts out some of the work in the warehouse department to three independent service providers or forwarders. The regular employees of the petitioner and those of the forwarders share the same work area and use the same equipment, tools and computers, all belonging to the petitioner. Respondent union demanded that the forwarder's employees be absorbed into the petitioner's regular employee force and be given positions within the bargaining unit. Did the demand find merit?

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Ruling: No.

When these Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) provisions were put in place, the forwarding agreements had been in place so that the forwarders' employees were never considered company employees who would be part of the bargaining unit. To be precise, the forwarders' employees and their positions were not part of the appropriate bargaining unit "as already constituted."

In fact, even now the union implicitly recognizes forwarding as a whole as a legitimate non-company activity by simply claiming as part of their unit the forwarders' employees undertaking allied support activities.

At this point, the union cannot simply turn around and claim through voluntary arbitration the contrary position that some forwarder employees should be regular employees and should be part of its bargaining unit because they undertake regular company functions. What the union wants is a function of negotiations, or perhaps an appropriate action before the National Labor Relations Commission impleading the proper parties, but not a voluntary arbitration that does not implead the affected parties.

The union must not forget, too, that before the inclusion of the forwarders' employees in the bargaining unit can be considered, these employees must first be proven to be regular company employees. As already mentioned, the union does not even have the personality to make this claim for these forwarders' employees.

This is the impenetrable wall that the union cannot, for now, pass through using the voluntary arbitration proceedings now before us on appeal.

Significantly, the evidence presented does not also prove the union's point that forwarder employees undertake company rather than the forwarders' activities. We say this mindful that forwarding includes a whole range of activities that may duplicate company activities in terms of the exact character and content of the job done and even of the skills required, but cannot be legitimately labeled as company activities because they properly pertain to forwarding that the company has contracted out (Temic Automotive Philippines, Inc. vs. Temic Automotive Philippines, Inc. Employees Union-FFW, G.R. No. 186965, December 23, 2009).

(Almirante is a formaer labor arbiter.)