Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina
|Native name||Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina|
|Founded||February 2, 1902|
|Predecessor||Union de Litografos e Impresores de Filipinas|
|Successor||Congreso Obrero de Filipinas|
The Unión Obrera Democrática Filipina (Spanish, Democratic Workers Union of the Philippines) was a trade union center in the Philippines. The organization was the first modern trade union federation in the country; earlier labor groups had been more of mutual aid societies and guilds. The organization had thirty-three affiliated trade unions as of 1902. In 1903 the organization counted 150 affiliated unions, with around 20,000 members in the Manila area. At its peak, the Union Obrera Democratica had approximately 150,000 members in eight provinces of Luzon.
The organization was established on February 2, 1902, at a congress of "approximately 140 printers and lithographers" gathered at Variedades Theater in Sampaloc, Manila. Isabelo de los Reyes was elected president of the organization, whilst Hermenegildo Cruz was elected secretary. Except for Cruz, all the elected founding officers were "rich manufacturers and employers in Manila." The founding congress adopted the principles of two books, Vida e Obras de Carlos Marx ("Life and Works of Karl Marx") by Friedrich Engels, and Los Campesinos ("The Farmers") by Errico Malatesta, as the political foundation of the movement.
According to historian Melinda Tria Kerkvliet, the main goals of the organization were: "to improve working conditions through protective labor legislation; locate work for the unemployed and assist their families; provide free education for workers' children; assist sick members and those in distress; and emancipate workers through saving and related projects."
The activities of UOD centered on improving the general welfare or workers and pushing for Philippine independence from the United States. Among these were:
July 1902 independence rally
August 1902 strike
The organization called for a national general strike on August 2, 1902, in protest of the refusal of the government to comply with the demands for increased wages for the workers. The first strike action occurred on August 9, 1902, as workers at the Malabon Commercial Tobacco Factory went on strike. The Union Obrera Democratica organized various walk-outs in factories in Manila and adjacent cities in support of the strike. The state authorities responded by arresting Isabelo de los Reyes and three other union leaders. De los Reyes was sentenced to four months in jail. As a result of the strike, wages were increased in some factories. Working hours were, however, unaffected.
Gomez at the helm
De los Reyes was pardoned soon after being jailed, on condition that he would not continue as a labor organizer. Cruz assembled a meeting to elected a new president of the organization. Dr. Dominador Gomez was elected as the new president of Union Obrera Democratica. After the election of Gomez, the name of the organization was changed to Union Obrera Democratica Filipina ("Filipino Democratic Workers Union").
May Day 1903
In April 1903 a meeting was held at the Malacañan Palace between the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina leaders (including Gomez) and governor William H. Taft, in which the trade unionists demanded that May 1 be celebrated as Labor Day. No agreement was reached, as Taft and Gomez clashed verbally. Following this meeting, Gomez was labelled as a "subversive" element. Requests from the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina to organize a rally on May 1 was denied by the authorities.
Gomez was subsequently arrested and condemned to forced labor. Like De los Reyes, he was acquitted on the condition that he leave UODF. Following Gomez's resignation, unions began disaffiliating from UODF. Moreover, the U.S. administration began bringing American Federation of Labor organizers to the country, trying to promote a less confrontational type of unionism (leading to the foundation of the Union del Trabajo de Filipinas).
Following its disintegration, other labor federations emerged such as the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas.
- Dennison, Eleanor. Philippine Labor under the Commonwealth, in Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 7, No. 24 (Dec. 7, 1938), pp. 277-282
- Guevarra, Dante G. History of the Philippine Labor Movement. Sta. Mesa, Manila: Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1991. pp. 17-18
- Guevarra, Dante G. History of the Philippine Labor Movement. Sta. Mesa, Manila: Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1991. pp. 19-20
- Guevarra, Dante G. History of the Philippine Labor Movement. Sta. Mesa, Manila: Institute of Labor & Industrial Relations, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 1991. pp. 23, 25
- Melinda Tria Kerkvliet. Manila Workers Unions, 1900-1950. Quezon City: New Day, 1992, p. 7.
- Melinda Tria Kerkvliet. Manila Workers Unions, 1900-1950. Quezon City: New Day, 1992, p. 8.
- Pomeroy, William J. The Philippines: colonialism, collaboration, and resistance. New York: Internat. Publ, 1992. p. 51
- Oliveros, Benjie. May 1st, a History of Struggle, in Bulatlat, Vol. VI, No. 12, April 30 - May 6, 2006