Bulletin Publishing Corporation vs. Hon. Augusto S. Sanchez et al.

Posted: May 1, 2015 in case digests, labor relations
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Bulletin Publishing Corporation vs. Hon. Augusto S. Sanchez et al.

GR No. 74425

October 7, 1986

Facts: Petitioner corporation has been engaged in the business of newspaper and magazine publishing for over half a century. its current publications include the national daily “Bulletin Today” (now Manila Daily Bulletin), the tabloid “Tempo”, and a weekly magazine called “Panorama”. The total number of the personnel complement of the said firm (exclusive of the editorial staff, contract workers and casuals, etc.), constituting the rank-and-file regular members, is said to be over three hundred persons. The supervisory employees number forty-eight. About three hundred employees belonging to the rank-and-file had previously formed the Bulletin Employees Union. This labor organization (BEU) presently administers their current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Ever since, there has been only one bargaining unit in the petitioner company and this is the BEU – the union of the rank-and-file employees. Supervisory employees were never included in said bargaining unit nor had they ever sought inclusion in the said BEU labor union, much less registered any protest or challenged to their non-inclusion therein.

25 out of 48 supervisors in the Bulletin Publishing Corporation formed a labor union and adopted a charter therefor, calling themselves members of the “Bulletin Publishing Corporation Supervisors Union” or BSU. A petition for registration of BSU, was filed with the Ministry of Labor and Employment. Registration Certificate No. 10547-LC was issued. A letter was sent to the management of petitioner corporation by BSU giving notice of the registration of the BSU and demanding its recognition as the sole bargaining agent of all the supervisors in the company. BSU supervisors union, is, at present, an affiliate of the National Federation of Labor Unions (NAFLU) and the Kilusang Mayo Union (KMU). BSU is alleged to be supported in its strike move by the said groups.

A petition for direct certification was filed by the BSU as the bargaining representative of the supervisors. A notice of strike by BSU was filed with the Ministry of Labor due to certain acts allegedly performed by petitioner which BSU claims, in effect, to be union busting and unfair labor practices. Refusing to recognize the BSU, the Bulletin Publishing Corporation filed a petition seeking cancellation of the registration of the BSU on the ground that Article 246 of the Labor Code and Section 11 of Rule II, Book V of the Implementing Rules thereof, prohibit supervisors from forming labor organizations.

Following the expiration of the fifteen-day cooling-off period, petitioner was prompted to file a petition with the Ministry of Labor, urging therein that said office assume jurisdiction in the matter of the impending strike. When the Minister of Labor failed to exercise his jurisdiction or act on the matter, petitioner then felt that the remedy it seeks should be sought from this Court because, further resort to the Ministry of Labor may be construed as a tacit recognition by petitioner of the supervisors union (BSU) which would be inconsistent with petitioner’s challenge to the assertion of BSU to exist as a legitimate labor union.

Issue: Whether or not supervisors in petitioner company may, for purposes of collective bargaining, form a union separate and distinct from the existing union organized by the rank-and-file employees of the same company.

Held: The supervisory employees of petitioner firm may not, under the law, form a supervisors union, separate and distinct from the existing bargaining unit (BEU), composed of the rank-and-file employees of the Bulletin Publishing Corporation. It is evident that most of the private respondents are considered managerial employees. Also it is distinctly stated in Section 11, Rule I I, of the Ommibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code, that supervisory unions are presently no longer recognized nor allowed to exist and operate as such.

Ratio: Article 246 of the Labor Code explicitly excludes managerial employees from the right of self-organization, the right to form, join and assist labor organizations. A perusal of the job descriptions corresponding to the private respondents as outlined in the petition, clearly reveals the private respondents to be managers, purchasing officers, personnel officers, property officers, supervisors, cashiers, heads of various sections and the like. The nature of their duties gives rise to the irresistible conclusion that most of the herein private respondents are performing managerial functions. Their responsibilities inherently require the exercise’ of discretion and independent judgment as supervisors. They possess the power and authority to lay down or exercise management policies. Managerial employees are those vested with powers or prerogatives to lay down and execute management policies and/or to hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign or discipline employees, or to effectively recommend such managerial actions. All employees not falling within this definition are considered rank-and file employees (Article 212 (k), Labor Code). We further find very plainly stressed in Section 11, Rule II, Book V of the Omnibus Rules implementing the same Labor Code, that “All existing supervisory unions and unions of security guards shall, upon the effectivity of the Code, cease to operate as such and their registration certificates shall be deemed automatically cancelled … Members of supervisory unions who do not fall within the definition of managerial employees shall become eligible to join or assist the rank-and- file labor organization and if none exists, to form or assist in the forming of such rank-and-file organizations.” (Emphasis supplied).

It is, therefore, evident that while mention is made of supervisors unions with reference to those existing before the enactment of the Labor Code, greater significance must attach to the fact that under the present Labor Code all these supervisory unions should, after the effectivity of the Labor Code, cease to operate and that the registration certificate of any such supervisors union should even be deemed to be automatically cancelled. It is also clear that such of those supervisory employees who do not assume any managerial function may join or assist an existing rank-and-file union or if none exists, to join or assist in the formation of such rank-and-file organization.

It follows as a logical conclusion that the members of the Bulletin Supervisory Union, wholly composed of supervisors employed by petitioner corporation, are not QUALIFIED to organize a Labor Union of their own. Aside from this reason, is the fact that there is already an existing legitimate labor union, the BEU, which enjoys a current collective bargaining agreement with the petitioner publishing company.

What is pointed out under the law, is that employees who discharge managerial functions, as well as the supervisory employees who do not yet fall within the definition of managerial employees, are prohibited from organizing themselves into a labor union constituted for the purpose of acting as a collective bargaining unit. To sanction the recognition of the Supervisors Union of private respondents, which paradoxically or inadvertently received a registration certificate from the Ministry of Labor, would be for this Court to accept and tolerate a manifest violation of the Labor Code. The rationale for this inhibition has been stated to be, because if these managerial employees would belong to or be affiliated with a Union, the latter might not be assured of their loyalty to the Union in view of evident conflict of interests. The Union can also become company- dominated with the presence of managerial employees in Union membership.

Acquiescence by private respondents to a classification and situation far different from the rank-and-file employees for a long and unceasing period of time obviously indicates that their exclusion from the rank-and-file union was upon their awareness that their duties place them in a category different from those to which the rank-and-file employees pertain. It is significant that only 25 of the 48 employees who are said to be managers and/or supervisors, belatedly insist in forming a new and separate union.

In sum, where concerted activities are aimed at compelling an employer to ignore the clear mandate of the Labor Code, as in the instant case, grounds based on equity may be invoked from the courts in order to restrain the questioned activities. We cannot remain oblivious to the fact that a strike, as that contemplated by the supervisors union against petitioner can cause irreparable injury to its publications, diminish goodwill and seriously affect its continuity with its regular readers.

Trade unionism and strikes are legitimate weapons of labor granted by our statutes. But when these instruments are utilized by managerial/supervisory employees in violation of existing labor laws, the misuse of these tactics can be the subject of judicial intervention to forestall grave injury to a business enterprise.

Dispositive: WHEREFORE, the temporary restraining order issued by this Court, dated May 12, 1986, enjoining the private respondents from declaring or staging a strike against the petitioner herein, in all its forms, including walk-out, mass leave, or any kind of activity that will lead to a work stoppage, is hereby made permanent. The public respondents are also directed to act upon and resolve, at the earliest possible time and in the light of the discussion and pronouncements made by the Court in this case, the petition dated April 25, 1986, submitted by the petitioner herein for the cancellation of Bulletin Publishing Corporation Supervisors Union Registration Certificate No. 105-47-LC.

LABREL CASE DIGEST POOL / ATTORNEY JHONELLE ESTRADA / MONDAYS / 5:30 PM TO 8:30 PM / NEW ERA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW

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