November 2005 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
G.R. No. 151326 - St. James School of Quezon City v. Samahang Manggagawa sa St. James School of Quezon City.
[G.R. NO. 151326 November 23, 2005]
ST. JAMES SCHOOL OF QUEZON CITY, Petitioner, v. SAMAHANG MANGGAGAWA SA ST. JAMES SCHOOL OF QUEZON CITY, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Before the Court is a Petition for Review 1 assailing the 5 September 2001 Decision and 3 January 2002 Resolution of the Court of Appeals2 in CA-G.R. SP No. 60197. The Court of Appeals sustained the Decision of the Department of Labor and Employment ("DOLE") directing the opening of the challenged ballots cast during the certification election.
The Antecedent Facts
The Samahang Manggagawa sa St. James School of Quezon City ("Samahang Manggagawa") filed a petition for certification election to determine the collective bargaining representative of the motor pool, construction and transportation employees of St. James School of Quezon City ("St. James"). On 26 June 1999, the certification election was held at the DOLE office in Intramuros, Manila. There were 149 eligible voters and 84 voters cast their votes. St. James filed a certification election protest challenging the 84 votes. St. James alleged that it had 179 rank and file employees, none of whom voted in the certification election. St. James argued that those who voted were not its regular employees but construction workers of an independent contractor, Architect Conrado Bacoy ("Architect Bacoy").
In an Order dated 6 January 2000,3 Med-Arbiter Tomas F. Falconitin ("Med-Arbiter Falconitin") ruled that at the time of the certification election, the 84 voters were no longer working at St. James. Med-Arbiter Falconitin supported his ruling using the roster of rank and file employees submitted by St. James, which did not include the names of the 84 voters. Med-Arbiter Falconitin also ruled that since the construction projects have ceased, some of the workers were no longer entitled to vote in the certification election. Finally, Med-Arbiter Falconitin ruled that even if the 84 workers were to be included in the 179 rank and file employees of St. James, the total number of voters would be 263. Thus, the 84 votes cast would not be sufficient to constitute a majority of all eligible voters to have a valid certification election. The dispositive portion of the Order reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the certification election protest is hereby given due course.
Accordingly, judgment is hereby rendered, declaring the certification election for the rank and file employees of respondent/protestant St. James School of Quezon City conducted on June 26, 1999, a failure; and null and void ab initio.
Samahang Manggagawa appealed to the Secretary of Labor. In its Decision5 dated 5 May 2000, the DOLE6 reversed the ruling of Med-Arbiter Falconitin. The DOLE ruled that Samahang Manggagawa seeks to represent the non-academic personnel or the rank and file employees from the motor pool, construction and transportation departments, and not all the rank and file employees of St. James. According to the DOLE, Med-Arbiter Falconitin erred in including all the rank and file employees of St. James, whether teaching or non-teaching personnel, in the computation of the total number of employees. The DOLE ruled that the list submitted by St. James contained only the administrative, teaching and office personnel of the school. The dispositive portion of the Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the appeal is hereby GRANTED and the order dated 06 January 2000 of the Med-Arbiter is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. In lieu thereof, an order is hereby issued directing the Election Officer, Lilibeth Cagara, DOLE-National Capital Region to open and canvass the 84 challenged ballots within ten (10) days from receipt hereof, subject to usual notice and representation by the parties and thereafter to issue the corresponding certification of the results.
In a Decision10 dated 5 September 2001, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition and ruled that the DOLE did not commit grave abuse of discretion in reversing the ruling of Med-Arbiter Falconitin. In its 3 January 2002 Resolution,11 the Court of Appeals denied St. James' motion for reconsideration.
Hence, the petition before this Court.
St. James questions the validity of the formation of the labor union and the validity of the certification election.12
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has no merit.
The Validity of the Formation of the Labor Union
St. James argues that majority of the members of Samahang Manggagawa are not its employees but employees of Architect Bacoy, an independent contractor.
St. James may no longer question the validity of the formation of the labor union.
The records13 show that prior to the holding of the certification election, St. James filed a petition for cancellation of Samahang Manggagawa's union registration. Among the grounds cited in the petition was the lack of employer-employee relationship between St. James and Samahang Manggagawa's members. The Med-Arbiter recommended the cancellation of the union registration. DOLE Regional Director IV Romeo Young ("Director Young") adopted the Med-Arbiter's recommendation and cancelled Samahang Manggagawa's union registration. Samahang Manggagawa filed an appeal before the Bureau of Labor Relations ("BLR"). In its Decision14 dated 22 January 1998, the BLR15 reversed Director Young's Decision. In its Resolution16 of 12 February 1998, the BLR denied St. James' motion for reconsideration. St. James filed a special civil action before the Court of Appeals. The case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 50918. In its 9 February 2001 Decision,17 the Court of Appeals dismissed St. James' petition and affirmed the BLR's Decision. The Court of Appeals ruled that the construction workers are actually St. James' regular employees in its motor pool, construction and transportation departments. The Court of Appeals also ruled that Architect Bacoy is a labor-only contractor and thus an agent of St. James, which is the real employer.
St. James filed a petition for certiorari before this Court. The case was docketed as G.R. No. 149648. In a Resolution dated 10 October 2001, this Court denied the petition for St. James' error in the choice or mode of appeal.18 The Court's 10 October 2001 Resolution closed any issue on the validity of the formation of the labor union.
The Validity of the Certification Election
Section 13, Rule XII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code ("Omnibus Rules") provides:
Section 13. Proclamation and certification of results by election officer; when proper. - Upon completion of the canvass there being a valid election, the election officer shall proclaim and certify as winner the union which obtained a majority of the valid votes cast under any of the following conditions:
a) No protest had been filed or, even if one was filed, the same was not perfected within the five-day period for perfection of the protest;
b) No challenge of eligibility issue was raised or even if one was raised, the resolution of the same will not materially change the result.
For this purpose, the election officer shall immediately issue the corresponding certification, copy furnished all parties, which shall form part of the records of the case. The winning union shall have the rights, privileges and obligations of a duly certified collective bargaining representative from the time the certification is issued. The proclamation and certification so issued shall not be appealable.
According to St. James, the certification election was conducted without quorum. St. James alleges that it has 179 rank and file employees in its Quezon City Campus. When the certification election was held, none of these qualified rank and file employees cast their votes because they were all on duty in the school premises. The 84 voters who cast their votes are employees of Architect Bacoy. St. James also alleges that it has 570 rank and file employees in all its campuses. Even if the 84 voters are its employees, the votes do not constitute a majority vote of its rank and file employees because the quorum should be based on its 570 rank and file employees.
We cannot sustain the argument.
St. James has five campuses - the Philamlife and Scout Alcaraz, Quezon City campuses which are pre-schools; the Parañaque City and Calamba, Laguna campuses which offer elementary, secondary and college education; and the Tandang Sora, Quezon City campus which offers elementary and secondary education.19
The members of Samahang Manggagawa are employees in the Tandang Sora campus. Under its constitution and by-laws, Samahang Manggagawa seeks to represent the motor pool, construction and transportation employees of the Tandang Sora campus.20 Thus, the computation of the quorum should be based on the rank and file motor pool, construction and transportation employees of the Tandang Sora campus and not on all the employees in St. James' five campuses.
Section 2, Rule XII, Book V of the Omnibus Rules provides:
Section 2. Qualification of voters; inclusion-exclusion proceedings. - All employees who are members of the appropriate bargaining unit sought to be represented by the petitioner at the time of the certification or consent election shall be qualified to vote. A dismissed employee whose dismissal is being contested in a pending case shall be allowed to vote in the election.
In case of disagreement over the voters' list or over the eligibility of voters, all contested voters shall be allowed to vote. However, their votes shall be segregated and sealed in individual envelopes in accordance with Section 9 of these Rules.
The motor pool, construction and transportation employees of the Tandang Sora campus had 149 qualified voters at the time of the certification election. Hence, the 149 qualified voters should be used to determine the existence of a quorum. Since a majority or 84 out of the 149 qualified voters cast their votes, a quorum existed in the certification election.
St. James further alleges that the names of the 84 voters are not on the list of its rank and file employees. On this score, we sustain the factual finding of the DOLE that the list submitted by St. James consists of its administrative, teaching and office personnel. These administrative, teaching and office personnel are not members of Samahang Manggagawa. They do not belong to the bargaining unit that Samahang Manggagawa seeks to represent. Hence, the list submitted by St. James may not be used as basis to determine the members of Samahang Manggagawa.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 5 September 2001 Decision and the 3 January 2002 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 60197.
1 Under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Rodrigo V. Cosico with Associate Justices Ramon A. Barcelona and Bienvenido L. Reyes, concurring.
3 CA Rollo, pp. 123-130.
4 Ibid., p. 130.
5 Rollo, pp. 41-46.
6 Through Undersecretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz.
7 Rollo, p. 46.
8 Through Assistant Secretary Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio, Jr.
9 CA Rollo, pp. 33-34.
10 Rollo, pp. 25-33.
11 Ibid., p. 24.
12 Ibid., p. 163.
13 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 50918 promulgated on 9 February 2001. Rollo, pp. 126-139.
14 Rollo, pp. 140-152.
15 Through Director Benedicto Ernesto R. Bitonio, Jr.
16 Rollo, pp. 153-154.
17 Penned by Associate Justice Rebecca De Guia-Salvador, with Associate Justices Conchita Carpio Morales (now Supreme Court Associate Justice) and Candido V. Rivera, concurring. Rollo, pp. 126-137.
18 Rollo, p. 125.
19 CA Decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 50918. Rollo, pp. 126-127.
20 BLR Decision, supra note 14.