G.R. No. 172132, July 23, 2014
THE HERITAGE HOTEL MANILA, ACTING THROUGH ITS OWNER, GRAND PLAZA HOTEL CORPORATION, Petitioner, v. SECRETARY OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT; MED-ARBITER TOMAS F. FALCONITIN; AND NATIONAL UNION OF WORKERS IN THE HOTEL, RESTAURANT AND ALLIED INDUSTRIES–HERITAGE HOTEL MANILA SUPERVISORS CHAPTER (NUWHRAIN-HHMSC), Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent employer/protestant’s protest with motion to defer certification of results and winner is hereby dismissed for lack of merit.
Accordingly, this Office hereby certify pursuant to the rules that petitioner/protestee, National Union of Workers in Hotels, Restaurants and Allied Industries-Heritage Hotel Manila Supervisory Chapter (NUWHRAIN-HHSMC) is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of all supervisory employees of the Heritage Hotel Manila acting through its owner, Grand Plaza Hotel Corporation for purposes of collective bargaining with respect to wages, and hours of work and other terms and conditions of employment.
WHEREFORE, the appeal is DENIED. The order of the Med-Arbiter dated 26 January 2001 is hereby AFFIRMED.
The petition for certiorari filed by the petitioner is, in essence, a continuation of the debate on the relevance of the Toyota Motor, Dunlop Slazenger and Progressive Development cases to the issues raised.
Toyota Motor and Dunlop Slazenger are anchored on the provisions of Article 245 of the Labor Code which prohibit managerial employees from joining any labor union and permit supervisory employees to form a separate union of their own. The language naturally suggests that a labor organization cannot carry a mixture of supervisory and rank-and-file employees. Thus, courts have held that a union cannot become a legitimate labor union if it shelters under its wing both types of employees. But there are elements of an elliptical reasoning in the holding of these two cases that a petition for certification election may not prosper until the composition of the union is settled therein. Toyota Motor, in particular, makes the blanket statement that a supervisory union has no right to file a certification election for as long as it counts rank-and-file employees among its ranks. More than four years after Dunlop Slazenger, the Court clarified in Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club Inc vs Tagaytay Highlands Employees Union-PTGWO that while Article 245 prohibits supervisory employees from joining a rank-and-file union, it does not provide what the effect is if a rank-and-file union takes in supervisory employees as members, or vice versa. Toyota Motor and Dunlop Slazenger jump into an unnecessary conclusion when they foster the notion that Article 245 carries with it the authorization to inquire collaterally into the issue wherever it rears its ugly head.
Tagaytay Highlands proclaims, in the light of Department Order 9, that after a certificate of registration is issued to a union, its legal personality cannot be subject to a collateral attack. It may be questioned only in an independent petition for cancellation. In fine, Toyota and Dunlop Slazenger are a spent force. Since Tagaytay Highlands was handed down after these two cases, it constitutes the latest expression of the will of the Supreme Court and supersedes or overturns previous rulings inconsistent with it. From this perspective, it is needless to discuss whether SPI Technologies as a mere resolution of the Court may prevail over a full-blown decision that Toyota Motor or Dunlop Slazenger was. The ruling in SPI Technologies has been echoed in Tagaytay Highlands, for which reason it is with Tagaytay Highlands, not SPI Technologies, that the petitioner must joust.
The fact that the cancellation proceeding has not yet been resolved makes it obvious that the legal personality of the respondent union is still very much in force. The DOLE has thus every reason to proceed with the certification election and commits no grave abuse of discretion in allowing it to prosper because the right to be certified as collective bargaining agent is one of the legitimate privileges of a registered union. It is for the petitioner to expedite the cancellation case if it wants to put an end to the certification case, but it cannot place the issue of the union’s legitimacy in the certification case, for that would be tantamount to making the collateral attack the DOLE has staunchly argued to be impermissible.
The reference made by the petitioner to another Progressive Development case that it would be more prudent for the DOLE to suspend the certification case until the issue of the legality of the registration is resolved, has also been satisfactorily answered. Section 11, Rule XI of Department Order 9 provides for the grounds for the dismissal of a petition for certification election, and the pendency of a petition for cancellation of union registration is not one of them. Like Toyota Motor and Dunlop Slazenger, the second Progressive case came before Department Order 9.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the disputed resolutions of the Secretary of Labor and Employment are AFFIRMED, and the petition is DISMISSED.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT TAGAYTAY HIGHLANDS APPLIES TO THE CASE AT BAR
[THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS] SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN IT DISREGARDED PROGRESSIVE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION – PIZZA HUT V. LAGUESMA WHICH HELD THAT IT WOULD BE MORE PRUDENT TO SUSPEND THE CERTIFICATION CASE UNTIL THE ISSUE OF THE LEGALITY OF THE REGISTRATION OF THE UNION IS FINALLY RESOLVED
BECAUSE OF THE PASSAGE OF TIME, RESPONDENT UNION NO LONGER POSSESSES THE MAJORITY STATUS SUCH THAT A NEW CERTIFICATION ELECTION IS IN ORDER25chanrobleslaw
Except when it is requested to bargain collectively, an employer is a mere bystander to any petition for certification election; such proceeding is non-adversarial and merely investigative, for the purpose thereof is to determine which organization will represent the employees in their collective bargaining with the employer. The choice of their representative is the exclusive concern of the employees; the employer cannot have any partisan interest therein; it cannot interfere with, much less oppose, the process by filing a motion to dismiss or an appeal from it; not even a mere allegation that some employees participating in a petition for certification election are actually managerial employees will lend an employer legal personality to block the certification election. The employer's only right in the proceeding is to be notified or informed thereof.
Article 238-A. Effect of a Petition for Cancellation of Registration. – A petition for cancellation of union registration shall not suspend the proceedings for certification election nor shall it prevent the filing of a petition for certification election.
x x x x
x x x x
[Articles 238 and 239 of the Labor Code] give the Regional Director ample discretion in dealing with a petition for cancellation of a union's registration, particularly, determining whether the union still meets the requirements prescribed by law. It is sufficient to give the Regional Director license to treat the late filing of required documents as sufficient compliance with the requirements of the law. After all, the law requires the labor organization to submit the annual financial report and list of members in order to verify if it is still viable and financially sustainable as an organization so as to protect the employer and employees from fraudulent or fly-by-night unions. With the submission of the required documents by respondent, the purpose of the law has been achieved, though belatedly.
We cannot ascribe abuse of discretion to the Regional Director and the DOLE Secretary in denying the petition for cancellation of respondent's registration. The union members and, in fact, all the employees belonging to the appropriate bargaining unit should not be deprived of a bargaining agent, merely because of the negligence of the union officers who were responsible for the submission of the documents to the BLR.
Labor authorities should, indeed, act with circumspection in treating petitions for cancellation of union registration, lest they be accused of interfering with union activities. In resolving the petition, consideration must be taken of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution, i.e., the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities. Labor authorities should bear in mind that registration confers upon a union the status of legitimacy and the concomitant right and privileges granted by law to a legitimate labor organization, particularly the right to participate in or ask for certification election in a bargaining unit. Thus, the cancellation of a certificate of registration is the equivalent of snuffing out the life of a labor organization. For without such registration, it loses - as a rule - its rights under the Labor Code.
It is worth mentioning that the Labor Code's provisions on cancellation of union registration and on reportorial requirements have been recently amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9481, An Act Strengthening the Workers’ Constitutional Right to Self-Organization, Amending for the Purpose Presidential Decree No. 442, As Amended, Otherwise Known as the Labor Code of the Philippines, which lapsed into law on May 25, 2007 and became effective on June 14, 2007. The amendment sought to strengthen the workers’ right to self-organization and enhance the Philippines' compliance with its international obligations as embodied in the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 87, pertaining to the non-dissolution of workers’ organizations by administrative authority. Thus, R.A. No. 9481 amended Article 239 to read:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryART. 239. Grounds for Cancellation of Union Registration.--The following may constitute grounds for cancellation of union registration:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryR.A. No. 9481 also inserted in the Labor Code Article 242-A, which provides:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
(a) Misrepresentation, false statement or fraud in connection with the adoption or ratification of the constitution and by-laws or amendments thereto, the minutes of ratification, and the list of members who took part in the ratification;
(b) Misrepresentation, false statements or fraud in connection with the election of officers, minutes of the election of officers, and the list of voters;
(c) Voluntary dissolution by the members.ART. 242-A. Reportorial Requirements.--The following are documents required to be submitted to the Bureau by the legitimate labor organization concerned:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
(a) Its constitution and by-laws, or amendments thereto, the minutes of ratification, and the list of members who took part in the ratification of the constitution and by-laws within thirty (30) days from adoption or ratification of the constitution and by-laws or amendments thereto;
(b) Its list of officers, minutes of the election of officers, and list of voters within thirty (30) days from election;
(c) Its annual financial report within thirty (30) days after the close of every fiscal year; and
(d) Its list of members at least once a year or whenever required by the Bureau.
Failure to comply with the above requirements shall not be a ground for cancellation of union registration but shall subject the erring officers or members to suspension, expulsion from membership, or any appropriate penalty.
x x x x
Clearly, then, for the purpose of de-certifying a union, it is not enough to establish that the rank-and-file union includes ineligible employees in its membership. Pursuant to Article 239 (a) and (c) of the Labor Code, it must be shown that there was misrepresentation, false statement or fraud in connection with the adoption or ratification of the constitution and by-laws or amendments thereto, the minutes of ratification, or in connection with the election of officers, minutes of the election of officers, the list of voters, or failure to submit these documents together with the list of the newly elected-appointed officers and their postal addresses to the BLR.
1Rollo, pp. 45-52; penned by Associate Justice Mario L. Guariña III (retired), with Associate Justice Roberto A. Barrios (retired) and Associate Justice Santiago Javier Ranada (retired), concurring.
2 Id. at 159-162 and 179-181.
3 Id. at 55-56 (docketed as NCR-OD-M-9510-014 entitled In Re: Petition for Certification Election Among the Regular Supervisory Employees of the Heritage Hotel Manila: NUWHRAIN-HHSMC Chapter, petitioner: Heritage Hotel, respondent).
4 Id. at 159-160.
5 Id. at 58-70.
6 Id. at 71.
7 Id. at 75-83.
8 Id. at 85-88.
9 Id. at 89.
10 Id. at 90-105.
11 Id. at 111-112; penned by Associate Justice Romeo A. Brawner (later Presiding Justice), with Associate Justice Quirino D. Abad Santos, Jr. (retired) and Associate Justice Andres B. Reyes, Jr. (presently Presiding Justice), concurring.
12 Id. at 139.
13 Id. at 113-122.
14 Id. at 139-142.
15 Id. at 143-151.
16 G.R. No. 121084, February 19, 1997, 268 SCRA 573, 584.
17 G.R. No. 131248, December 11, 1998, 300 SCRA 120, 128.
18Rollo, pp. 159-162.
19 G.R. No. 137422, March 8, 1999.
20Rollo, pp. 179-181.
21 Id. at 180.
22 Id. at 182-209.
23 Supra note 1.
24 Id. at 256-268.
25 Id. at 14.
26 G.R. No. 142000, January 22, 2003, 395 SCRA 699.
27 Article 234. REQUIREMENTS OF REGISTRATION.—A federation, national union or industry or trade union center or an independent union shall acquire legal personality and shall be entitled to the rights and privileges granted by law to legitimate labor organizations upon issuance of the certificate of based on the following requirements:.
x x x x
(c) In case the applicant is an independent union, the names of all its members comprising at least twenty percent (20%) of all the employees in the bargaining unit where it seeks to operate;
x x x x
28 G.R. No. 96425, February 4, 1992, 205 SCRA 802, 808.
29San Miguel Foods, Inc. v. San Miguel Corporation Supervisors and Exempt Union, G.R. No. 146206, August 1, 2011, 655 SCRA 1, 17; Trade Unions of the Phils. and Allied Services v. Trajano, G.R. No. L-61153, January 17, 1983, 120 SCRA 64, 66.
30Consolidated Farms, Inc. v. Noriel, G.R. No. L-47752, July 31, 1978, 84 SCRA 469, 473.
31San Miguel Foods, Inc. v. San Miguel Corporation Supervisors and Exempt Union, supra note 29.
32Sta. Lucia East Commercial Corporation v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 162355, August 14, 2009, 596 SCRA 92, 103; San Miguel Foods, Inc.-Cebu B-Meg Feed Plant v. Laguesma, G.R. No. 116172, October 10, 1996, 263 SCRA 68, 82.
33 G.R. No. 160352, July 23, 2008, 559 SCRA 386, 408.
34 Oriental Tin Can Labor Union v. Secretary of Labor and Employment, G.R. No. 116751, August 28, 1998, 294 SCRA 640, 651.
35Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Pacific Plastic v. Laguesma, G.R. No. 111245, January 31, 1997, 267 SCRA 303, 310; National Union of Bank Employees v. Minister of Labor, G.R. No. L-53406, December 14, 1981, 110 SCRA 274, 392.
36Itogon-Suyoc Mines, Inc. v. Sañgilo-Itogon Workers’ Union, G.R. No. L-24189, August 30, 1968, 24 SCRA 873, 881-882.
37An Act Strengthening the Workers’ Constitutional Right to Self-Organization, Amending for the Purpose Presidential Decree No. 442, As Amended, otherwise known as The Labor Code of the Philippines.
38 G.R. No. 178296, January 12, 2011, 639 SCRA 420, 435-439.
39 Supra note 33.
40 Supra note 26, at 709.
41 G.R. No. 155395, June 22, 2006, 492 SCRA 243, 249-250.
42Pepsi Cola Products, Philippines v. Secretary of Labor, G.R. Nos. 96663 & 103300, August 10, 1999, 312 SCRA 104, 118.
43San Miguel Foods, Inc. v. San Miguel Corporation Supervisors and Exempt Union, supra, note 29 at 12.
44 See San Miguel Corporation (Mandaue Packaging Products Plants) v. Mandaue Packing Products Plants-San Miguel Packaging Products-San Miguel Corporation Monthlies Rank-And-File Union-FFW (MPPP-SMPP-SMCMRFU-FFW), G.R. No. 152356, August 16, 2005, 467 SCRA 107, 134-135, which quoted from the Resolution of the DOLE-BLR dated December 29, 1998 in relation to mixed membership as sufficient basis for cancelling the labor organizations’s registration, and the application of Toyota Motor to the issue dealt with in the case, as follows:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryx x x [T]he Toyota case cannot certainly be given an interpretation that emasculates the right to self-organization and the promotion of free trade unionism. We take administrative notice of the realities in union organizing, during which the organizers must take their chances, oftentimes unaware of the fine distinctions between managerial, supervisory and rank and file employees. The grounds for cancellation of union registration are not meant to be applied automatically, but indeed with utmost discretion. Where a remedy short of cancellation is available, that remedy should be preferred. x x x. What is important is that there is an unmistakeable intent of the members of appellee union to exercise their right to organize. We cannot impose rigorous restraints on such right if we are to give meaning to the protection to labor and social justice clauses of the Constitution. (Emphasis supplied)