Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sugbanon Rural Bank Inc., vs. Laguesma [2000]

Facts: Private respondent SRBI-APSOTEU (Union) is a legitimate labor organization affiliated with TUCP. DOLE Regional Office granted a Certificate of Registration, and thereafter the union filed a petition for certification election of the supervisory employees of petitioner SRBI. Med-Arbiter set the pre-election conference. SRBI, however filed a motion to dismiss based on 2 grounds: 

(1) Members of APSOTEU-TUCP were managerial or confidential employees thus disqualified from forming or joining unions (attached job descriptions) 

(2) ALU-TUCP was representing the union, thus there was a violation of the principle of separation of unions 

Med-Arbiter denied the motion to dismiss and ordered the certification election. DOLE also dismissed the subsequent appeal of SRBI, ruling that APSOTEU-TUCP was a legitimate labor organization and it had the legal right to represent its members for collective bargaining purposes. 

(1) Whether or not members of the respondent union are managerial employees and/or highly-placed confidential employees hence prohibited by law from joining labor organizations

(2) Whether or not the Med-Arbiter may validly order the holding of a certification election upon filing of a petition for certification election, despite the petitioner’s appeal pending before the DOLE Secretary
(1) No. Art.212(m) of the Labor Code defines managerial employees as “one who is vested with powers or prerogatives to lay down and execute management policies and/or hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign or discipline employees.” Petitioner argues that responsibilities of employees involved constitute the very core of the banking business, then cited cases (Tabacalera, Panday) where credit and collection supervisors were deemed as managerial employees. 

In this case, however, petitioners failed to show that the employees in question (cashiers, accountants, acting chief of loans department) were vested with powers to “recommend the hiring and firing of his subordinates.” At best they only had recommendatory functions subject to review by the bank’s management. 

Neither were the respondents confidential employees (requisites: 1. assist and act in confidential capacity, 2. Persons who formulate, determine, and effectuate management policies). The two criteria are cumulative. Article 245 does not directly prohibit confidential employees but applies under the doctrine of necessary implication (because they become aware of management policies relating to labor relations). 

(2) YES. Article 242 (b) LC provides that one of the rights of a legitimate labor organization is the right to be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of all employees in the appropriate bargaining unit for purposes of collective bargaining. Article 257 states that certification election shall be automatically conducted by the Med-Arbiter upon filing of petition of legitimate labor organization. 

Petitioner argues that giving due course to the certification election would violate the separation of unions doctrine (alleges that union is a mere alter-ego of ALU). This argument must fail. Petition was filed by APSOTEU-TUCP, a legitimate labor organization, and not the ALU nor the TUCP (national labor federation). A local union maintains its separate personality despite its affiliation with a larger national federation. There are nothing in the records to support the contentions of the petitioner.

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