G.R. No. 91086 May 8, 1990
VIRGILIO S. CARIÑO Petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, HARRISON INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION and HARRISON INDUSTRIAL WORKERS' UNION, Respondents.
Federico C. Leynes for petitioner.chanrobles virtual law library
Banzuela, Flores, Miralles, Rañeses Sy, Taquio & Associates for respondent Union.chanrobles virtual law library
Armando V. Ampil for respondent Harrison.
R E S O L U T I O N
Petitioner asks the Court to declare null and void a Decision dated 26 May 1989 of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) in NLRC Case No. NCR-00-09-03225-87 and to reinstate the Decision of the Labor Arbiter which the NLRC had modified.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Petitioner Cariño was the former President of private respondent Harrison Industrial Workers' Union ("Union"). Because he was widely believed to have grossly mismanaged Union affairs, the other officers of the Union formed an investigating committee and several times invited petitioner Cariño to answer the complaints and charges against him. These charges were, principally:chanrobles virtual law library
1. Conspiring with the company during the negotiation of the CBA, resulting in, among other things, Article 22 entitled "Retirement" which provided for retirement pay of one (1) day's basic salary for every year of service.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
2. Paying attorney's fees to Atty. Federico Leynes, Union counsel, out of Union funds without obtaining corresponding receipts therefor.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
3. Unilaterally increasing the membership dues by an additional P17.00 per member in order to pay increased attorney's fees.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
4. Concealing the CBA, failure to present and to explain the provisions of the same prior to ratification by the union membership.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
5. Refusal to turn over the custody and management of Union funds to the Union treasurer.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Petitioner Cariño, however, failed to respond to the calls or invitations made by the investigating committee. Finally, the investigation committee caged a general membership meeting on 11 June 1987. At this general membership meeting, the charges against petitioner were presented and discussed and the Union decided to file a petition for special election of its officers.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
On 16 June 1987, a petition for special election of officers was filed by the Union with the Bureau of Labor Relations, Department of Labor and Employment. Several hearings were field at the BLR always with due notice to petitioner Cariño petitioner, however, failed to appear even once.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
On 5 August 1987, a general Union membership meeting was held for the impeachment of Cariño. The general membership found Cariño guilty of the above-mentioned charges and decided to expel him from the Union and to recommend his termination from employment. Atty. Federico Leynes also ceased to be counsel for the Union.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The Union accordingly informed private respondent Harrison Industrial Corporation ("Company") of the expulsion of petitioner Cariño from the Union and demanded application of the Union Security Clause of the then existing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on 15 September 1987. Petitioner Cariño received a letter of termination from the Company, effective the next day.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
Petitioner Cariño, now represented by Atty. Leynes, the former lawyer of the Union, filed a complaint for illegal dismissal with the Labor Arbiter.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In a Decision dated 7 October, 1988, the Labor Arbiter held that there was no just cause for the dismissal of petitioner Cariño, none of the causes for suspension or dismissal of Union members enumerated in the Union's Constitution and By-Laws being applicable to petitioner's situation. The Labor Arbiter also held that the manner of petitioner's dismissal had been in disregard of the requirements of notice and hearing laid down in the Labor Code. The Labor Arbiter ordered petitioner's reinstatement with full backwages and payment of attorney's fees, the monetary liability to be borne solidarily by the Company and the Union.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The Company and the Union went on appeal before the public respondent National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The NLRC, in a Decision promulgated on 26 May 1989, reversed the Labor Arbiter's award. The NLRC noted that petitioner Cariño had merely denied the serious charges of mismanagement preferred against him, as set out in the affidavit of Dante Maroya, the incumbent President of the Union, which affidavit had been adopted by the Union as its position paper in the proceedings before the Labor Arbiter. The NLRC held Cariño's silence as "tantamount to [an] admission of guilt" and as constituting the ultimate cause for his dismissal. However, the NLRC agreed with the Labor Arbiter's finding that the manner of petitioner Cariño's dismissal was inconsistent with the requirements of due process. The NLRC accordingly found the Company and the Union solidarily liable, "by way of penalty and financial assistance", to petitioner Cariño for payment of separation pay, at the rate of one-half (1/2) month's salary for each year of service.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In the instant Petition for Certiorari, petitioner Cariño basically seeks reinstatement of the Decision of the Labor Arbiter.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
1. Petitioner Cariño contended that the NLRC had erred in taking cognizance of the Union's admittedly late appeal. We agree, however, with the Solicitor General that it is a settled principle of remedial law that reversal of a judgment obtained by a party appealing from it also benefits a co-party who had not appealed, or who had appealed out of time, where the rights and liabilities of both parties under the modified decision are so interwoven and inter-dependent as to be substantively inseparable. 1chanrobles virtual law library
In the instant case, the NLRC could take cognizance of the late appeal of the Union, considering that the lawfulness of petitioner Cariño's dismissal by the Company could be determined only after ascertaining, among other things, the validity of the Union's act of expelling Cariño from its membership. In other words, the Company having seasonably appealed the Labor Arbiter's Decision and the Company's and the Union's liability being closely intertwined the NLRC could properly take account of the Union's appeal even though not seasonably filed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
2. The NLRC in effect held that there had been just cause for petitioner Cariño's dismissal. The Court considers that the NLRC was correct in so holding, considering the following documentary provisions:chanrobles virtual law library
a) Article II, Sections 4 and 5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Company and the Union provided as follows:
The UNION assumes full and complete responsibility for all dismiss of any worker/employee effected by the UNION and conceded in turn, by the COMPANY pursuant to the provisions hereof.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The UNION shall defend and hold the COMPANY free and harmless against any and all claims the dismissed worker/employee might bring and/or obtain from the Company for such dismissal. 2 (Emphasis supplied)chanrobles virtual law library
b) The Constitution of the Union contains the following provisions:
Article XVI entitled "Impeachment and Recall" specified, in Section 1 thereof, the grounds for impeachment or recall of the President and other Union officers, in the following terms:
It appears to the Court that the particular charges raised against petitioner Cariño, set out earlier, reasonably fall within the underscored provisions of the foregoing documents. The NLRC impliedly recognized this when it described the charges of mismanagement against Carino as serious.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The Labor Arbiter, however, also held that petitioner Cariño had been deprived of procedural due process on the union level in view of alleged failure to comply with the required procedure, governing impeachment and recall proceedings set out in Article XVI, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Union. Article XVI, Section 2 reads as follows:
The NLRC, for its part, noted that while the prescribed procedural steps had not all been followed or complied with, still,
It is true that the impeachment of Cariño had not been initiated by a formal petition or resolution signed by at least thirty percent (30%) of an the bona fide members of the Union. A general meeting had, however, been called to take up the charges against petitioner Carino who had been given multiple opportunities to defend himself before the investigating committee of the Union officers and before the general Union members as well as before the Bureau of Labor Relations. Petitioner Cariño, however, chose to disregard all calls for him to appear and defend himself. At the general membership meeting, therefore, petitioner Cariño was impeached and ordered recalled by unanimous vote of the membership. Under these circumstances, failure to comply literally with step (a) of Article XVI Section 2 of the Union's Constitution must be regarded as non-material: the prescribed impeachment and recall proceeding had been more than substantially complied with.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
4. Turning now to the involvement of the Company in the dismissal of petitioner Cariño we note that the Company upon being formally advised in writing of the expulsion of petitioner Carino from the Union, in turn simply issued a termination letter to Cariño, the termination being made effective the very next day. We believe that the Company should have given petitioner Carino an opportunity to explain his side of the controversy with the Union. Notwithstanding the Unions Security Clause in the CBA, the Company should have reasonably satisfied itself by its own inquiry that the Union had not been merely acting arbitrarily and capriciously in impeaching and expelling petitioner Cariño. From what was already discussed above, it is quite clear that had the Company taken the trouble to investigate the acts and proceedings of the Union, it could have very easily determined that the Union had not acted arbitrarily in impeaching and expelling from its ranks petitioner Cariño. The Company offered the excuse that the Union had threatened to go on strike if its request had not been forthwith granted. Assuming that such a threat had in fact been made, if a strike was in fact subsequently called because the Company had insisted on conducting its own inquiry, the Court considers that such would have been prima facie an illegal strike. The Company also pleaded that for it to inquire into the lawfulness of the acts of the Union in this regard would constitute interference by the Company in the administration of Union affairs. We do not believe so.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
In Liberty Cotton Mills Worker's Union, et al. v. Liberty Cotton Mills, et al. 8 the Court held respondent company to have acted in bad faith in dismissing the petitioner workers without giving them an opportunity to present their side in their controversy with their own union.
In Manila Cordage Company v. Court of industrial Relations, et al., 10 the Court stressed the requirement of good faith on the part of the company in dismissing the complainant and in effect held that precipitate action in dismissing the complainant is indication of lack of good faith.
5. We conclude that the Company had failed to accord to petitioner Cariño the latter's right to procedural due process. The right of an employee to be informed of the charges against him and to reasonable opportunity to present his side in a controversy with either the Company or his own Union, is not wiped away by a Union Security Clause or a Union Shop Clause in a CBA. An employee is entitled to be protected not only from a company which disregards his rights but also from his own Union the leadership of which could yield to the temptation of swift and arbitrary expulsion from membership and hence dismissal from his job.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
The Court does not believe, however, that the grant of separation pay to petitioner Cariño was an appropriate response (there having been just cause for the dismissal) to the failure of the Company to accord him his full measure of due process. Since petitioner Cariño had clearly disdained answering the charges preferred against him within the Union, there was no reason to suppose that if the Company had held formal proceedings before dismissing him, he would have appeared in a Company investigation and pleaded his defenses, if he had any, against the charges against him. There was no indication that the Company had in fact conspired with the Union to bring about the expulsion and dismissal of petitioner Cariño indeed, the Union membership believed it was Cariño who had conspired with the company in the course of negotiating the CBA. Considering all the circumstances of this case, and considering especially the nature of the charges brought against petitioner Cariño before his own Union, the Court believes that a penalty of P5,000 payable to petitioner Carino should be quite adequate, the penalty to be borne by the Company and the Union solidarily The Court also considers that because the charges raised against petitioner and unanswered by him have marked overtones of dishonesty, this is not a case where "financial (humanitarian) assistance" to the dismissed employee is warranted. 12chanrobles virtual law library
WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSED the Petition for certiorari for lack of merit but MODIFIED the Decision of the public respondent National Labor Relations Commission dated 26 May 1989 by eliminating the grant of separation pay and in lieu thereof imposing a penalty of P5,000.00 payable to the petitioner to be borne solidarily by the Company and the Union. No pronouncement as to costs.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Cortes JJ., concur.
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