The Associated Labor Unions (ALU) was founded on 17 April 1954 in Cebu City by practicing lawyers Januario T. Seno, Democrito T. Mendoza, and Cecilio T. Seno. It was legitimized as a labor organization through Department of Labor Certificate of Registration No. 783-IP dated 2 July 1954.
Atty. Democrito T. Mendoza and Atty. Cecilio T. Seno were elected President and Executive Vice President, respectively, of the Union in June 1956. ALU’s first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was with Visayan Cebu Terminal Co. Inc., concluded on 27 April 1957. The highly publicized concerted action that preceded labor-management negotiations helped popularize and establish ALU as legitimate workers’ representative.
The ALU Review, the first official publication of the Union, came out in February 1959.
In the early 60’s , Bro. Quirino Regidor who was shot dead while guarding a picket line became ALU’s first martyr. Killed also in action were: Bro. Ladislao Ybarreta on 1 June 1970 in Cebu City; Atty. Venerando Briones on 3 April 1984 in Quezon City; Bro. Rodrigo Lapulapu of Mars-man Plantation on 25 December 1984 in Davao del Norte; Atty. Vic Villordon of ALU’s Radio DYLA on 28 December 1984 in Cebu City; Atty. Max Nunez on 15 June 1985 in Davao City; and Bro. Carlos Fajardo of UTEX on 26 March 1988 in Antipolo City.
ALU finished the construction of its own building in the port of Cebu City in January 1961.
In 1961, Atty. Democrito T. Mendoza was a member of the Philippine delegation to the International Labor Conference of the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland. He attended the ILO Conference almost ebery year since then.
ALU’s efforts to unify Philippine labor paid off in 1963. Fifteen labor organizations in the Visayas and Mindanao, which had long been in bitter struggle for supremacy, came together under the umbrella of the Visayas-Mindano Confederation of Trade Unions (VIMCONTU). In the same year, ALU-VIMCONTU organized the committee on Political Action (COPA).
In 1965, Atty. Democrito T. Mendoza became the first leader of the Philippine Labor Center.
The Union’s organizing campaign in Manila started in 1967. ALU scored a major victory when it won by a land slide in the certification election at Universal Textile Mills, or Utex, in Manila.
ALU’s radio station DYLA, the voice of Labor in the Philippines and labor’s first in Asia, went officially on air on 3 August 1967. Ten years later, ALU inaugurated its Workers Medical Center also in Cebu City. ALU’s DYLA FM (now DYWF FM) started operating on 1 May 1976 while DXML in Digos, Davao del Sur was acquired in 1981.
The VIMCONTU Executive Center (VMEX) organized by Atty. Cecilio T. Seno opened its first session on 1 July 1968. It was created primarily to develop more competent and responsible people to help administer the complex organizational structure of the ALU and the VIMCONTU.
The Northern Mindanao Region (NMR) was formed in 1968 after the workers of Philippine Packing Corp. (now Del Monte Philippines, Inc.) joined ALU. Southern Mindanao Region was created in 1969.
ALU’s Spiritual Center, the St. Joseph the Worker Chapel, in Cebu City was inaugurated on 1 May 1970. On January 1971, ALU initiated the formation of the Philippine Congress of Trade Union (PHILCONTU) in Manila.
ALU and three of its industry unions were among the founding members of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines when launched on 14 December 1974 in Quezon City. The Philippine Seafarers Union (PSU) was founded on 12 May 1984 in Cebu City. PSU is one of ALU’s fourteen industry unions. The Associated Professional, Supervisory, Office and Technical Employees Union (APSOTEU) was founded on 5 February 1991.
Atty. Januario T. Seno retired from ALU in April 1991. HE was bestowed “The Lapulapu Leadership Founder’s Supreme Award”, the highest possible award ALU could ever give.
Through the years, ALU national leaders served their members and staff, and the workers in general and their families. In the same manner, locals and ALU personnel supported and worked with, and for, their national leaders.
ALU brings together under its fold trade union organizations from almost all industries, sea-based and land-based alike, including banking and finance, agriculture, textile and garment, transport, hotels and restaurants, wood and paper, communication, service, electricity, electronics, chemicals, metal, food, construction, and many more.
ALU continues to nurture the vision and ideals that drove its creation 58 years ago advancing trade unionism to uphold the dignity of labor, protect human and trade unions rights, respect the integrity of the earth, work for sustainable development and intergenerational equity, and improve quality of life, despite risks and sometimes, the absence of recognition.
Membership recruitment campaigns carried out by ALU’s four regional offices for the land-based sector resulted in 52 certification elections (CE) victories for the period 2006-2010. These victories, however, did not assure conclusion of CBAs. The strong anti-union stand of employers, local political realities and gaps in substantive and procedural laws and shortcomings in implementation continued to pose difficulties to ALU’s organizing efforts. On the other hand, the Philippine Seafarers Union (PSU) maintained an increasing membership trend from 2006-2010 despite the globally-challenged maritime industry.
The federation helped prepared and negotiated a number of collective bargaining proposals and managed more than 831 Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) across industries.
Industrial relations were also a challenge during the last five years although 77 percent of 44 notices of strike filed were amicably settled. Ten strike notices developed into actual work interruptions, but none resulted in company closure.
ALU spent as much time and resources in membership servicing as it did in organizing. It continued to provide assistance in collective bargaining, grievance handling, union management, education and information, legal and paralegal services, health, welfare services, and technical, administrative, financial and audit support to its members. All these hoped to develop an informed membership competent and committed leaders and strong and loyal local union affiliates. ALU also kept its key personnel abreast with latest developments and emerging issues to keep its institutional capacity aligned with the demands of the time.
Networking and coalition-building efforts strengthened local and international affiliations which enhanced the federation’s visibility as a significant and reliable social partner. ALU continued to be a major force to recon with in a number of advocacy struggles or successes, such as freedom of association, right to collective bargaining, wage adjustments, occupational safety and health, security of tenure and ban asbestos campaign.
Strengthened partnerships enabled. ALU to access project or program assistance such as from the department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) thru its Workers Organizations Development Program (WODP) and Workers Income Augmentation Program (WINAP), Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), All Japan Seaman’s Union (JSU), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and a number of local companies and organizations.
ALU also established reputation as a reliable partner capable of, and committed to, working for worker’s interests that resulted in labor representation in decision-making bodies.
At the local level, ALU National Vice President for Mindanao Raymond C. Mendoza is TUCP Party-list Representative in Philippine Congress. There were/are also representative in the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), John Hay Management Corporation (JHMC), Bataan Technology Park, Inc. (BTPI), Social Security Commission (SSC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs), Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC), Sugar Tripartite Council (STC), Hotel and Restaurant Tripartite Council Board (HRTCB), Bank Industry Tripartite Council (BITC), Construction Industry Tripartite Council (CITC), Regional Development Councils (RDCs), LGUs Women’s Family Affairs Commission (WFAC), and Tripartite Voluntary Arbitration Advisory Council (TVAAC).
At the international level, Sis. Eva B. Arcos served as member, first substitute, of the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP) Women’s Committee from 2007 to 2009 and as member, representing ASEAN women, of the ITUC-AP Regional General Council from September 2009 to May 2011. Bro. Gerard R. Seno continues to serve as first substitute in BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Committee and Union Network International – Asia Pacific Regional Organization (UNIAPRO) Executive Committee.
As the country’s largest labor federation, ALU’s sustainability was further enhanced by the completion of major physical and organizational projects which enabled the Union to draw organizing targets, strengthen solidarity among local union members and ALU staff, and provide better and wider services to membership, including their families.