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Sugbuanon Rural Bank, Inc. v. Laguesma (2000) Quisumbing, J.

FACTS: Petitioner Bank is a duly-registered banking institution with a branch in Mandaue City. Private respondent SRBIAPSOTEU-TUCP (Union) is a legitimate labor organization affiliated with the Trade Unions Congress of the Philippines. The Union was granted Certificate of Registration No. R0700-9310-UR-0064 by the DOLE Regional Office in Cebu. It later filed a petition for certification election of the supervisory employees of SRBI. The Union alleged: o It was a duly registered labor organization; o The Bank employed five (5) or more supervisory employees; o A majority of these employees supported the petition; o There was no existing CBA between any union and the Bank; and o No certification election had been conducted in the past 12 months prior to the petition. Prior to the pre-certification election conference, the Bank filed a motion to dismiss: o Employees were managerial/confidential; o ALU-TUCP, which represented the Union, was also representing the rank-and-file employees of the Bank, in violation of the doctrine of separation of unions ( Atlas Lithographic Services v. Laguesma). Med-Arbiter: Denied the MTD and scheduled inclusion-exclusion proceedings. SOLE: Denied the Banks appeal for lack of merit; ordered the conduct of a certification election. Med-Arbiter: Set the date for the election and identified the voting employees (Cashier-Main, Cashier-Mandaue, Accountant-Mandaue, Acting Chief of the Loans Department). o The Bank filed an urgent motion to suspend proceedings. Denied. o MR was filed by the Bank. Med-Arbiter canceled the scheduled certification election in order to address the Banks MR. o MR denied. The Bank appealed to the SOLE. Meanwhile, the Bank also filed a petition for cancellation of union registration before the DOLE Regional Office. It claimed that the employees were managerial/confidential. DOLE Undersecretary: Denied the appeal for lack of merit (from the decision of the Med-Arbiter). o The Union was a legitimate labor organization. o Until and unless a final order is issued cancelling APSOTEU-TUCPs registration certificate, it had the legal right to represent its members for collective bargaining purposes. o The question of whether the employees are managerial/confidential should be threshed out in exclusion proceedings. o MR denied. Med-Arbiter: Scheduled the holding of a certification election. ISSUES + RULING: Are the members of respondent Union managerial employees? NO. Art. 212 (m) defines managerial employees: Managerial employee one who is vested with powers or prerogatives to lay down and execute management policies and/or hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign or discipline employees. Supervisory employees are those who, in the interest of the employer, effectively recommend such managerial actions if the exercise of such authority is not merely routinary or clerical in nature but requires the use of independent judgment. All employees not falling within any of the above definitions are considered rank- and-file employees for purposes of this Book. To support its stance, petitioner Bank cites Tabacalera Insurance v. NLRC, in which the Court held that a credit and collection supervisor is a managerial employee. However, in that case, the employee concerned had effective recommendatory powers. In the case at bar, petitioner failed to show that the employees in question were vested with similar powers. o They do not possess effective recommendatory powers. o Neither do they formulate and execute management policies.

Are they confidential employees? NO. Confidential employees are whose who: o Act or assist in a confidential capacity, in regard o To persons who formulate, determine and effectuate management policies [especially in the field of labor relations].

Both criteria must be met. While Art. 245 does not prohibit confidential employees from engaging in union activities, under the doctrine of necessary implication, the disqualification of managerial employees equally applies to confidential employees. When an employee does not have access to confidential labor relations information, there is no legal prohibition against joining, forming, or assisting a union. While petitioner submitted detailed job descriptions of the employees concerned to the effect that they handle sensitive data and information, there was no proof offered to show that they had access to confidential information specifically relating to labor relations policies.

Did the DOLE Undersecretary commit grave abuse of discretion in ordering the conduct of a certification election? NO. Petitioner Bank contends that the Union violated the doctrine of separation of unions as both the supervisory and rank-and-file employees are represented by ALU or TUCP. However, there is nothing in the records which supports petitioners claim. While the Union was initially assisted by ALU during its preliminary stages of organization, a local union maintains its separate personality despite affiliation with a larger national federation. DISPOSITION: Petition dismissed.