The mixture of rank-and-file and supervisory employees in petitioner union does not nullify its legal personality as a legitimate labor organization.
The CA found that petitioner union has for its membership both rank-and-file and supervisory employees. However, petitioner union sought to represent the bargaining unit consisting of rank-and-file employees. Under Article 245 of the Labor Code, supervisory employees are not eligible for membership in a labor organization of rank-and-file employees. Thus, the appellate court ruled that petitioner union cannot be considered a legitimate labor organization pursuant to Toyota Motor Philippines v. Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation Labor Union (hereinafter Toyota).
Preliminarily, we note that petitioner union questions the factual findings of the Med-Arbiter, as upheld by the appellate court, that 12 of its members, consisting of batchman, mill operator and leadman, are supervisory employees. However, petitioner union failed to present any rebuttal evidence in the proceedings below after respondent company submitted in evidence the job descriptions of the aforesaid employees. The job descriptions indicate that the aforesaid employees exercise recommendatory managerial actions which are not merely routinary but require the use of independent judgment, hence, falling within the definition of supervisory employees under Article 212(m) of the Labor Code. For this reason, we are constrained to agree with the Med-Arbiter, as upheld by the appellate court, that petitioner union consisted of both rank-and-file and supervisory employees.
Nonetheless, the inclusion of the aforesaid supervisory employees in petitioner union does not divest it of its status as a legitimate labor organization. The appellate court’s reliance on Toyota is misplaced in view of this Court’s subsequent ruling in Republic v. Kawashima Textile Mfg., Philippines, Inc. (hereinafter Kawashima). In Kawashima, we explained at length how and why the Toyota doctrine no longer holds sway under the altered state of the law and rules applicable to this case, viz:
R.A. No. 6715 omitted specifying the exact effect any violation of the prohibition [on the co-mingling of supervisory and rank-and-file employees] would bring about on the legitimacy of a labor organization.
It was the Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. No. 6715 (1989 Amended Omnibus Rules) which supplied the deficiency by introducing the following amendment to Rule II (Registration of Unions):
“Sec. 1. Who may join unions. – x x x Supervisory employees and security guards shall not be eligible for membership in a labor organization of the rank-and-file employees but may join, assist or form separate labor organizations of their own; Provided, that those supervisory employees who are included in an existing rank-and-file bargaining unit, upon the effectivity of Republic Act No. 6715, shall remain in that unit x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
and Rule V (Representation Cases and Internal-Union Conflicts) of the Omnibus Rules, viz:
“Sec. 1. Where to file. – A petition for certification election may be filed with the Regional Office which has jurisdiction over the principal office of the employer. The petition shall be in writing and under oath.
Sec. 2. Who may file. – Any legitimate labor organization or the employer, when requested to bargain collectively, may file the petition.
The petition, when filed by a legitimate labor organization, shall contain, among others:
x x x x
(c) description of the bargaining unit which shall be the employer unit unless circumstances otherwise require; and provided further, that the appropriate bargaining unit of the rank-and-file employees shall not include supervisory employees and/or security guards. (Emphasis supplied)
By that provision, any questioned mingling will prevent an otherwise legitimate and duly registered labor organization from exercising its right to file a petition for certification election.
Thus, when the issue of the effect of mingling was brought to the fore in Toyota, the Court, citing Article 245 of the Labor Code, as amended by R.A. No. 6715, held:
“Clearly, based on this provision, a labor organization composed of both rank-and-file and supervisory employees is no labor organization at all. It cannot, for any guise or purpose, be a legitimate labor organization. Not being one, an organization which carries a mixture of rank-and-file and supervisory employees cannot possess any of the rights of a legitimate labor organization, including the right to file a petition for certification election for the purpose of collective bargaining. It becomes necessary, therefore, anterior to the granting of an order allowing a certification election, to inquire into the composition of any labor organization whenever the status of the labor organization is challenged on the basis of Article 245 of the Labor Code.
x x x x
In the case at bar, as respondent union’s membership list contains the names of at least twenty-seven (27) supervisory employees in Level Five positions, the union could not, prior to purging itself of its supervisory employee members, attain the status of a legitimate labor organization. Not being one, it cannot possess the requisite personality to file a petition for certification election.” (Emphasis supplied)
In Dunlop, in which the labor organization that filed a petition for certification election was one for supervisory employees, but in which the membership included rank-and-file employees, the Court reiterated that such labor organization had no legal right to file a certification election to represent a bargaining unit composed of supervisors for as long as it counted rank-and-file employees among its members.
It should be emphasized that the petitions for certification election involved in Toyota and Dunlop were filed on November 26, 1992 and September 15, 1995, respectively; hence, the 1989 Rules was applied in both cases.
But then, on June 21, 1997, the 1989 Amended Omnibus Rules was further amended by Department Order No. 9, series of 1997 (1997 Amended Omnibus Rules). Specifically, the requirement under Sec. 2(c) of the 1989 Amended Omnibus Rules – that the petition for certification election indicate that the bargaining unit of rank-and-file employees has not been mingled with supervisory employees – was removed. Instead, what the 1997 Amended Omnibus Rules requires is a plain description of the bargaining unit, thus:
x x x x
Sec. 4. Forms and contents of petition. – The petition shall be in writing and under oath and shall contain, among others, the following: x x x (c) The description of the bargaining unit.
In Pagpalain Haulers, Inc. v. Trajano, the Court had occasion to uphold the validity of the 1997 Amended Omnibus Rules, although the specific provision involved therein was only Sec. 1, Rule VI, to wit:
“Section. 1. Chartering and creation of a local/chapter.- A duly registered federation or national union may directly create a local/chapter by submitting to the Regional Office or to the Bureau two (2) copies of the following: a) a charter certificate issued by the federation or national union indicating the creation or establishment of the local/chapter; (b) the names of the local/chapter’s officers, their addresses, and the principal office of the local/chapter; and (c) the local/ chapter’s constitution and by-laws; provided that where the local/chapter’s constitution and by-laws is the same as that of the federation or national union, this fact shall be indicated accordingly.
All the foregoing supporting requirements shall be certified under oath by the Secretary or the Treasurer of the local/chapter and attested to by its President.”
which does not require that, for its creation and registration, a local or chapter submit a list of its members.
Then came Tagaytay Highlands Int’l. Golf Club, Inc. v. Tagaytay Highlands Employees Union-PGTWO in which the core issue was whether mingling affects the legitimacy of a labor organization and its right to file a petition for certification election. This time, given the altered legal milieu, the Court abandoned the view in Toyota and Dunlop and reverted to its pronouncement in Lopez that while there is a prohibition against the mingling of supervisory and rank-and-file employees in one labor organization, the Labor Code does not provide for the effects thereof. Thus, the Court held that after a labor organization has been registered, it may exercise all the rights and privileges of a legitimate labor organization. Any mingling between supervisory and rank-and-file employees in its membership cannot affect its legitimacy for that is not among the grounds for cancellation of its registration, unless such mingling was brought about by misrepresentation, false statement or fraud under Article 239 of the Labor Code.
In San Miguel Corp. (Mandaue Packaging Products Plants) v. Mandaue Packing Products Plants-San Miguel Packaging Products-San Miguel Corp. Monthlies Rank-and-File Union-FFW, the Court explained that since the 1997 Amended Omnibus Rules does not require a local or chapter to provide a list of its members, it would be improper for the DOLE to deny recognition to said local or chapter on account of any question pertaining to its individual members.
More to the point is Air Philippines Corporation v. Bureau of Labor Relations,which involved a petition for cancellation of union registration filed by the employer in 1999 against a rank-and-file labor organization on the ground of mixed membership:the Court therein reiterated its ruling in Tagaytay Highlands that the inclusion in a union of disqualified employees is not among the grounds for cancellation, unless such inclusion is due to misrepresentation, false statement or fraud under the circumstances enumerated in Sections (a) and (c) of Article 239 of the Labor Code.
All said, while the latest issuance is R.A. No. 9481, the 1997 Amended Omnibus Rules, as interpreted by the Court in Tagaytay Highlands, San Miguel and Air Philippines, had already set the tone for it. Toyotaand Dunlop no longer hold sway in the present altered state of the law and the rules. [Underline supplied]
The applicable law and rules in the instant case are the same as those in Kawashima because the present petition for certification election was filed in 1999 when D.O. No. 9, series of 1997, was still in effect. Hence, Kawashima applies with equal force here. As a result, petitioner union was not divested of its status as a legitimate labor organization even if some of its members were supervisory employees; it had the right to file the subject petition for certification election.