EN BANC

[G.R. No. 122226. March 25, 1998]

UNITED PEPSI-COLA SUPERVISORY UNION (UPSU), petitioner, vs. HON. BIENVENIDO E. LAGUESMA and PEPSI-COLA PRODUCTS, PHILIPPINES, INC. respondents.

D E C I S I O N

MENDOZA, J.:

Petitioner is a union of supervisory employees. It appears that on March 20, 1995 the union filed a petition for certification election on behalf of the route managers at Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. However, its petition was denied by the med-arbiter and, on appeal, by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, on the ground that the route managers are managerial employees and, therefore, ineligible for union membership under the first sentence of Art. 245 of the Labor Code, which provides:

Ineligibility of managerial employees to join any labor organization; right of supervisory employees. Managerial employees are not eligible to join, assist or form any labor organization. Supervisory employees 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.

Petitioner brought this suit challenging the validity of the order dated August 31, 1995, as reiterated in the order dated September 22, 1995, of the Secretary of Labor and Employment. Its petition was dismissed by the Third Division for lack of showing that respondent committed grave abuse of discretion. But petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, pressing for resolution its contention that the first sentence of Art. 245 of the Labor Code, so far as it declares managerial employees to be ineligible to form, assist or join unions, contravenes Art. III 8 of the Constitution which provides:

The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for the purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.

For this reason, the petition was referred to the Court en banc.

The Issues in this Case

Two question are presented by the petition: (1) whether the route managers at Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. are managerial employees and (2) whether Art. 245, insofar as it prohibits managerial employees from forming, joining or assisting labor unions, violates Art. III, 8 of the Constitution.

In resolving these issues it would be useful to begin by defining who are managerial employees and considering the types of managerial employees.

Types of Managerial Employees

The term manager generally refers to anyone who is responsible for subordinates and other organization resources.[1] As a class, managers constitute three levels of a pyramid:

Top Management

_________________

Middle Management

_________________

First Line

Management

(also called Supervisor)

____________________

____________________

Operatives

Or Operating Employees

FIRST-LINE MANAGERS The lowest level in an organization at which individuals are responsible for the work of others is called first-line or first-level management. First-line managers direct operating employees only; they do not supervise other managers. Example of first-line managers are the foreman or production supervisor in a manufacturing plant, the technical supervisor in a research department, and the clerical supervisor in a large office. First-level managers are often called supervisors.

MIDDLE MANAGERS The term middle management can refer to more than one level in an organization. Middle managers direct the activities of other managers and sometimes also those of operating employees. Middle managers principal responsibilities are to direct the activities that implement their organizations policies and to balance the demands of their superiors with the capacities of their subordinates. A plant manager in an electronics firm is an example of a middle manager.

TOP MANAGERS Composed of a comparatively small group of executives, top management is responsible for the overall management of the organization. It establishes operating policies and guides the organizations interactions with its environment. Typical titles of top managers are chief executive officer, president, and senior vice-president. Actual titles vary from one organization to another and are not always a reliable guide to membership in the highest management classification.[2]

As can be seen from this description, a distinction exist between those who have the authority to devise, implement and control strategic and operational policies (top and middle managers) and those whose task is simply to ensure that such polices are carried out by the rank-and-file employees of an organization (first-level managers/supervisors). What distinguishes them from the rank-and file employees is that they act in the interest of the employer in supervising such rank-and-file employees.

Managerial employees may therefore be said to fall into two distinct categories: the managers per se, who compose the former group described above, and the supervisors who form the latter group. Whether they belong to the first or second category, managers, vis--vis employers, are, likewise, employees.[3]

The first question is whether route managers are managers are managerial employees or supervisors.

Previous Administrative Determinations of the Question Whether Route Managers are Managerial Employees

It appears that this question was the subject of two previous determinations by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, in accordance with which this case was decided by the med-arbiter.

In Case No. OS-MA-10318-91, entitled Workerss Alliance Trade Union (WATU) v. Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc., decided on November 13, 1991, the Secretary of Labor found:

We examined carefully the pertinent job description of the subject employees and other documentary evidence on record vis--vis paragraph (m), Article 212 of the Labor Code, as amended, and we find that only those employees occupying the position of route manager and accounting manager are managerial employees. The rest i.e. quality control manager, yard/transport manager and warehouse operations manager are supervisory employees.

To qualify as managerial employee, there must be a clear showing of the exercise of managerial attributes under paragraph (m), Article 212 of the Labor Code as amended. Designations or titles of positions are not controlling. In the instant case, nothing on record will support the claim that the quality control manager, yard/transport manager and warehouse operations manager are vested with said attributes. The warehouse operations manager, for example, merely assists the plant finance manager in planning, organizing, directing and controlling all activities relative to development and implementation of an effective management control information system at the sale offices. The exercise of authority of the quality control manager, on the other hand, needs the concurrence of the manufacturing manager

As to the route managers and accounting manager, we are convinced that they are managerial employees. Their job descriptions clearly reveal so.

On July 6, 1992, this finding was reiterated in Case No. OS-A-3-71-92, entitled In Re: Petition for Direct Certification and/or Certification Election-Route Managers/Supervisory Employees of Pepsi-Cola Products Phils. Inc., as follows:

The issue brought before us is not of first impression. At one time, we had the occasion to rule upon the status of route manager in the same company vis a vis the issue as to whether or not it is supervisory employee or a managerial employee. In the case of Workers Alliance Trade Unions (NATU) vs. Pepsi Cola Products, Phils., Inc. (OS-MA-A-10-318-91), 15 November 1991, we ruled that a route manager is a managerial employee within the context of the definition of the law, and hence, ineligible to join, form or assist a union. We have once more passed upon the logic of our Decision aforecited in the light of the issues raised in the instant appeal, as well as the available documentary evidence on hand, and have come to the view that there is no cogent reason to depart from our earlier holding. Route Managers are, by the very nature of their functions and the authority they wield over their subordinates, managerial employees. The prescription found in Art. 245 of the Labor Code, as amended therefore, clearly applies to them.[4]4

Citing our ruling in Nasipit Lumber Co. v. National Labor Relations Commission,[5]5 however, petitioner argues that these previous administrative determinations do not have the effect of res judicata in this case, because "labor relations proceedings" are "non-litigious and summary in nature without regard to legal technicalities."[6] Nasipit Lumber Co. involved a clearance to dismiss an employee issued by the Department of Labor. The question was whether in a subsequent proceeding for illegal dismissal, the clearance was res judicata. In holding it was not, this Court made it clear that it was referring to labor relations proceedings of a non-adversary character, thus:

The requirement of a clearance to terminate employment was a creation of the Department of labor to carry out the Labor Code provisions on security of tenure and termination of employment. The proceeding subsequent to the filing of an application for clearance to terminate employment was outlined in Book V, Rule XIV of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Labor Code. The fact that said rule allowed a procedure for the approval of the clearance with or without the opposition of the employee concerned (Secs. 7 & 8), demonstrates the non-litigious and summary nature of the proceeding. The clearance requirement was therefore necessary only as an expeditious shield against arbitrary dismissal without the knowledge and supervision of the Department of Labor. Hence, a duly approved clearance implied that the dismissal was legal or for cause (Sec. 2).[7]v. National Labor Relations Commission, 177 SCRA 93, 100 (1989).7

But the doctrine of res judicata certainly applies to adversary administrative proceedings. As early as 1956, in Brillantes v. Castro,[8]8 we sustained the dismissal of an action by a trial court on the basis of a prior administrative determination of the same case by the Wage Administration Service, applying the principle of res judicata. Recently, in Abad v. NLRC[9]9 we applied the related doctrine of stare decisis in holding that the prior determination that certain jobs at the Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Co. were project employments was binding in another case involving another group of employees of the same company. Indeed, in Nasipit Lumber Co., this Court clarified toward the end of its opinion that "the doctrine of res judicata applies . . . to judicial or quasi judicial proceedings and not to the exercise of administrative powers."[10]v. National Labor Relations Commission, supra note 7.10 Now proceedings for certification election, such as those involved in Case No. OS-M-A-10-318-91 and Case No. OS-A-3-71-92, are quasi judicial in nature and, therefore, decisions rendered in such proceedings can attain finality.[11]v. B.F. Goodrich (Marikina Factory) Confidential and Salaries Employees Union-NATU, 49 SCRA 532 (1973).11

Thus, we have in this case an expert's view that the employees concerned are managerial employees within the purview of Art. 212 which provides:

(m) "managerial employee" is one who is 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. 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.

At the very least, the principle of finality of administrative determination compels respect for the finding of the Secretary of Labor that route managers are managerial employees as defined by law in the absence of anything to show that such determination is without substantial evidence to support it. Nonetheless, the Court, concerned that employees who are otherwise supervisors may wittingly or unwittingly be classified as managerial personnel and thus denied the right of self- organization, has decided to review the record of this case.

DOLE's Finding that Route Managers are Managerial Employees Supported by Substantial Evidence in the Record

The Court now finds that the job evaluation made by the Secretary of Labor is indeed supported by substantial evidence. The nature of the job of route managers is given in a four-page pamphlet, prepared by the company, called "Route Manager Position Description," the pertinent parts of which read:

A. BASIC PURPOSE

A Manager achieves objectives through others.

As a Route Manager, your purpose is to meet the sales plan; and you achieve this objective through the skillful MANAGEMENT OF YOUR JOB AND THE MANAGEMENT OF YOUR PEOPLE.

These then are your functions as Pepsi-Cola Route Manager. Within these functions - managing your job and managing your people - you are accountable to your District Manager for the execution and completion of various tasks and activities which will make it possible for you to achieve your sales objectives.

B. PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTABILITIES

1.0 MANAGING YOUR JOB

The Route Manager is accountable for the following:

1.1 SALES DEVELOPMENT

1.1.1 Achieve the sales plan.

1.1.2 Achieve all distribution and new account objectives.

1.1.3 Develop new business opportunities thru personal contacts with dealers.

1.1.4 Inspect and ensure that all merchandizing [sic] objectives are achieved in all outlets.

1.1.5 maintain and improve productivity of all cooling equipment and kiosks.

1.1.6 Execute and control all authorized promotions.

1.1.7 Develop and maintain dealer goodwill.

1.1.8 Ensure all accounts comply with company suggested retail pricing.

1.1.9 Study from time to time individual route coverage and productivity for possible adjustments to maximize utilization of resources.

1.2 Administration

1.2.1 Ensure the proper loading of route trucks before check-out and the proper sorting of bottles before check-in.

1.2.2 Ensure the upkeep of all route sales reports and all other related reports and forms required on an accurate and timely basis.

1.2.3 Ensure proper implementation of the various company policies and procedures incl. but not limited to shakedown; route shortage; progressive discipline; sorting; spoilages; credit/collection; accident; attendance.

1.2.4 Ensure collection of receivables and delinquent accounts.

2.0 MANAGING YOUR PEOPLE

The Route Manager is accountable for the following:

2.1 Route Sales Team Development

2.1.1 Conduct route rides to train, evaluate and develop all assigned route salesmen and helpers at least 3 days a week, to be supported by required route ride documents/reports & back check/spot check at least 2 days a week to be supported by required documents/reports.

2.1.2 Conduct sales meetings and morning huddles. Training should focus on the enhancement of effective sales and merchandizing [sic] techniques of the salesmen and helpers. Conduct group training at least 1 hour each week on a designated day and of specific topic.

2.2 Code of Conduct

2.2.1 Maintain the company's reputation through strict adherence to PCPPI's code of conduct and the universal standards of unquestioned business ethics.[12]12

Earlier in this opinion, reference was made to the distinction between managers per se (top managers and middle managers) and supervisors (first-line managers). That distinction is evident in the work of the route managers which sets them apart from supervisors in general. Unlike supervisors who basically merely direct operating employees in line with set tasks assigned to them, route managers are responsible for the success of the company's main line of business through management of their respective sales teams. Such management necessarily involves the planning, direction, operation and evaluation of their individual teams and areas which the work of supervisors does not entail.

The route managers cannot thus possibly be classified as mere supervisors because their work does not only involve, but goes far beyond, the simple direction or supervision of operating employees to accomplish objectives set by those above them. They are not mere functionaries with simple oversight functions but business administrators in their own right. An idea of the role of route managers as managers per se can be gotten from a memo sent by the director of metro sales operations of respondent company to one of the route managers. It reads:[13]

03 April 1995

To : CESAR T. REOLADA

From : REGGIE M. SANTOS

Subj : SALARY INCREASE

Effective 01 April 1995, your basic monthly salary of P11,710 will be increased to P12,881 or an increase of 10%. This represents the added managerial responsibilities you will assume due to the recent restructuring and streamlining of Metro Sales Operations brought about by the continuous losses for the last nine (9) months.

Let me remind you that for our operations to be profitable, we have to sustain the intensity and momentum that your group and yourself have shown last March. You just have to deliver the desired volume targets, better negotiated concessions, rationalized sustaining deals, eliminate or reduced overdues, improved collections, more cash accounts, controlled operating expenses, etc. Also, based on the agreed set targets, your monthly performance will be closely monitored.

You have proven in the past that your capable of achieving your targets thru better planning, managing your group as a fighting team, and thru aggressive selling. I am looking forward to your success and I expect that you just have to exert your doubly best in turning around our operations from a losing to a profitable one!

Happy Selling!!

(Sgd.) R.M. SANTOS

The plasticized card given to route managers, quoted in the separate opinion of Justice Vitug, although entitled "RM's Job Description," is only a summary of performance standards. It does not show whether route managers are managers per se or supervisors. Obviously, these performance standards have to be related to the specific tasks given to route managers in the four-page "Route Manager Position Description," and, when this is done, the managerial nature of their jobs is fully revealed. Indeed, if any, the card indicates the great latitude and discretion given to route managers - from servicing and enhancing company goodwill to supervising and auditing accounts, from trade (new business) development to the discipline, training and monitoring of performance of their respective sales teams, and so forth, - if they are to fulfill the company's expectations in the "key result areas."

Article 212(m) says that "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." Thus, their only power is to recommend. Certainly, the route managers in this case more than merely recommend effective management action. They perform operational, human resource, financial and marketing functions for the company, all of which involve the laying down of operating policies for themselves and their teams. For example, with respect to marketing, route managers, in accordance with B.1.1.1 to B.1.1.9 of the Route Managers Job Description, are charged, among other things, with expanding the dealership base of their respective sales areas, maintaining the goodwill of current dealers, and distributing the company's various promotional items as they see fit. It is difficult to see how supervisors can be given such responsibility when this involves not just the routine supervision of operating employees but the protection and expansion of the company's business vis-a-vis its competitors.

While route managers do not appear to have the power to hire and fire people (the evidence shows that they only "recommended" or "endorsed" the taking of disciplinary action against certain employees), this is because this is a function of the Human Resources or Personnel Department of the company.[14]14 And neither should it be presumed that just because they are given set benchmarks to observe, they are ipso facto supervisors. Adequate control methods (as embodied in such concepts as "Management by Objectives [MBO]" and "performance appraisals") which require a delineation of the functions and responsibilities of managers by means of ready reference cards as here, have long been recognized in management as effective tools for keeping businesses competitive.

This brings us to the second question, whether the first sentence of Art. 245 of the Labor Code, prohibiting managerial employees from forming, assisting or joining any labor organization, is constitutional in light of Art. III, 8 of the Constitution which provides:

The right of the people, including those employed in the public and private sectors, to form unions, associations, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged.

As already stated, whether they belong to the first category (managers per se) or the second category (supervisors), managers are employees. Nonetheless, in the United States, as Justice Puno's separate opinion notes, supervisors have no right to form unions. They are excluded from the definition of the term "employee" in 2(3) of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947.[15]v. Bell Aerospace Co., 416 U.S. 281, n 11, 40 L.Ed.2d 134, 147, n. 11 (1974), thus:

Supervisors are management people. They have distinguished themselves in their work. They have demonstrated their ability to take care of themselves without depending upon the pressure of collective action. No one forced them to become supervisors. They abandoned the "collective security" of the rank and file voluntarily, because they believed the opportunities thus opened to them to be more valuable to them than such "security". It seems wrong, and it is wrong, to subject people of this kind, who have demonstrated their initiative, their ambition and their ability to get ahead, to the leveling processes of seniority, uniformity and standardization that the Supreme Court recognizes as being fundamental principles of unionism. (J.I. Case Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 332, 88 L.Ed. 762, 64 S. Ct. 576 (1994). It is wrong for the foremen, for it discourages the things in them that made them foremen in the first place. For the same reason, that it discourages those best qualified to get ahead, it is wrong for industry, and particularly for the future strength and productivity of our country.15 In the Philippines, the question whether managerial employees have a right of self-organization has arisen with respect to first-level managers or supervisors, as shown by a review of the course of labor legislation in this country.

Right of Self-Organization of Managerial Employees under Pre-Labor Code Laws

Before the promulgation of the Labor Code in 1974, the field of labor relations was governed by the Industrial Peace Act (R.A. No. 875).

In accordance with the general definition above, this law defined "supervisor" as follows:

SECTION 2. . . .

(k) "Supervisor" means any person having authority in the interest of an employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, discharge, assign, recommend, or discipline other employees, or responsibly to direct them, and to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such acts, if, in connection with the foregoing, the exercise of such authority is not of a merely routinary or clerical nature but requires the use of independent judgment.[16]16

The right of supervisors to form their own organizations was affirmed:

SEC. 3. Employees' Right to Self-Organization. -- Employees shall have the right to self-organization and to form, join or assist labor organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining and other mutual aid and protection. Individuals employed as supervisors shall not be eligible for membership in a labor organization of employees under their supervision but may form separate organizations of their own.[17]

For its part, the Supreme Court upheld in several of its decisions the right of supervisors to organize for purposes of labor relations.[18]v. Filoil Supervisory and Confidential Employees Association, 6 SCRA 522 (1972); Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa Manila Railroad Co. v. CIR, 106 Phil 607 (1959).18

Although it had a definition of the term "supervisor," the Industrial Peace Act did not define the term "manager." But, using the commonly-understood concept of "manager," as above stated, it is apparent that the law used the term "supervisors" to refer to the sub-group of "managerial employees" known as front-line managers. The other sub-group of "managerial employees," known as managers per se, was not covered.

However, in Caltex Filipino Managers and Supervisors Association v. Court of Industrial Relations,[19]J.)19 the right of all managerial employees to self-organization was upheld as a general proposition, thus:

It would be going too far to dismiss summarily the point raised by respondent Company - that of the alleged identity of interest between the managerial staff and the employing firm. That should ordinarily be the case, especially so where the dispute is between management and the rank and file. It does not necessarily follow though that what binds the managerial staff to the corporation forecloses the possibility of conflict between them. There could be a real difference between what the welfare of such group requires and the concessions the firm is willing to grant. Their needs might not be attended to then in the absence of any organization of their own. Nor is this to indulge in empty theorizing. The record of respondent Company, even the very case cited by it, is proof enough of their uneasy and troubled relationship. Certainly the impression is difficult to erase that an alien firm failed to manifest sympathy for the claims of its Filipino executives. To predicate under such circumstances that agreement inevitably marks their relationship, ignoring that discord would not be unusual, is to fly in the face of reality.

. . . The basic question is whether the managerial personnel can organize. What respondent Company failed to take into account is that the right to self-organization is not merely a statutory creation. It is fortified by our Constitution. All are free to exercise such right unless their purpose is contrary to law. Certainly it would be to attach unorthodoxy to, not to say an emasculation of, the concept of law if managers as such were precluded from organizing. Having done so and having been duly registered, as did occur in this case, their union is entitled to all the rights under Republic Act No. 875. Considering what is denominated as unfair labor practice under Section 4 of such Act and the facts set forth in our decision, there can be only one answer to the objection raised that no unfair labor practice could be committed by respondent Company insofar as managerial personnel is concerned. It is, as is quite obvious, in the negative.[20]20

Actually, the case involved front-line managers or supervisors only, as the plantilla of employees, quoted in the main opinion,[21]J.) (emphasis added).21 clearly indicates:

CAFIMSA members holding the following Supervisory Payroll Position Title are Recognized by the Company

Payroll Position Title

Assistant to Mgr. - National Acct. Sales

Jr. Sales Engineer

Retail Development Asst.

Staff Asst. - 0 Marketing

Sales Supervisor

Supervisory Assistant

Jr. Supervisory Assistant

Credit Assistant

Lab. Supvr. - Pandacan

Jr. Sales Engineer B

Operations Assistant B

Field Engineer

Sr. Opers. Supvr. - MIA A/S

Purchasing Assistant

Jr. Construction Engineer

St. Sales Supervisor

Deport Supervisor A

Terminal Accountant B

Merchandiser

Dist. Sales Prom. Supvr.

Instr. - Merchandising

Asst. Dist. Accountant B

Sr. Opers. Supervisor

Jr. Sales Engineer A

Asst. Bulk Ter. Supt.

Sr. Opers. Supvr.

Credit Supervisor A

Asst. Stores Supvr. A

Ref. Supervisory Draftsman

Refinery Shift Supvr. B

Asst. Supvr. A - Operations (Refinery)

Refinery Shift Supvr. B

Asst. Lab. Supvr. A (Refinery)

St. Process Engineer B (Refinery)

Asst. Supvr. A - Maintenance (Refinery)

Asst. Supvr. B - Maintenance (Refinery)

Supervisory Accountant (Refinery)

Communications Supervisor (Refinery)

Finally, also deemed included are all other employees excluded from the rank and file unions but not classified as managerial or otherwise excludable by law or applicable judicial precedents.

Right of Self-Organization of Managerial Employees under the Labor Code

Thus, the dictum in the Caltex case which allowed at least for the theoretical unionization of top and middle managers by assimilating them with the supervisory group under the broad phrase "managerial personnel," provided the lynchpin for later laws denying the right of self-organization not only to top and middle management employees but to front line managers or supervisors as well. Following the Caltex case, the Labor Code, promulgated in 1974 under martial law, dropped the distinction between the first and second sub-groups of managerial employees. Instead of treating the terms "supervisor" and "manager" separately, the law lumped them together and called them "managerial employees," as follows:

ART. 212. Definitions . . . .

(k) "Managerial Employee" is one who is 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 for purposes of this Book.[22]22

The definition shows that it is actually a combination of the commonly understood definitions of both groups of managerial employees, grammatically joined by the phrase "and/or."

This general definition was perhaps legally necessary at that time for two reasons. First, the 1974 Code denied supervisors their right to self-organize as theretofore guaranteed to them by the Industrial Peace Act. Second, it stood the dictum in the Caltex case on its head by prohibiting all types of managers from forming unions. The explicit general prohibition was contained in the then Art. 246 of the Labor Code.

The practical effect of this synthesis of legal concepts was made apparent in the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code which the Department of Labor promulgated on January 19, 1975. Book V, Rule II, 11 of the Rules provided:

Supervisory unions and unions of security guards to cease operation. - 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. However, existing collective agreements with such unions, the life of which extends beyond the date of effectivity of the Code, shall be respected until their expiry date insofar as the economic benefits granted therein are concerned.

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 organization. The determination of who are managerial employees and who are not shall be the subject of negotiation between representatives of the supervisory union and the employer. If no agreement is reached between the parties, either or both of them may bring the issue to the nearest Regional Office for determination.

The Department of Labor continued to use the term "supervisory unions" despite the demise of the legal definition of "supervisor" apparently because these were the unions of front line managers which were then allowed as a result of the statutory grant of the right of self-organization under the Industrial Peace Act. Had the Department of Labor seen fit to similarly ban unions of top and middle managers which may have been formed following the dictum in Caltex, it obviously would have done so. Yet it did not, apparently because no such unions of top and middle managers really then existed.

Real Intent of the 1986 Constitutional Commission

This was the law as it stood at the time the Constitutional Commission considered the draft of Art. III, 8. Commissioner Lerum sought to amend the draft of what was later to become Art. III, 8 of the present Constitution:

MR. LERUM. My amendment is on Section 7, page 2, line 19, which is to insert between the words "people" and "to" the following: WHETHER EMPLOYED BY THE STATE OR PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS. In other words, the section will now read as follows: "The right of the people WHETHER EMPLOYED BY THE STATE OR PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS to form associations, unions, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged."[23]23

Explaining his proposed amendment, he stated:

MR. LERUM. Under the 1935 Bill of Rights, the right to form associations is granted to all persons whether or not they are employed in the government. Under that provision, we allow unions in the government, in government-owned and controlled corporations and in other industries in the private sector, such as the Philippine Government Employees' Association, unions in the GSIS, the SSS, the DBP and other government-owned and controlled corporations. Also, we have unions of supervisory employees and of security guards. But what is tragic about this is that after the 1973 Constitution was approved and in spite of an express recognition of the right to organize in P.D. No. 442, known as the Labor Code, the right of government workers, supervisory employees and security guards to form unions was abolished.

And we have been fighting against this abolition. In every tripartite conference attended by the government, management and workers, we have always been insisting on the return of these rights. However, both the government and employers opposed our proposal, so nothing came out of this until this week when we approved a provision which states:

Notwithstanding any provision of this article, the right to self-organization shall not be denied to government employees.

We are afraid that without any corresponding provision covering the private sector, the security guards, the supervisory employees or majority employees [sic] will still be excluded, and that is the purpose of this amendment.

I will be very glad to accept any kind of wording as long as it will amount to absolute recognition of private sector employees, without exception, to organize.

THE PRESIDENT. What does the Committee say?

FR. BERNAS. Certainly, the sense is very acceptable, but the point raised by Commissioner Rodrigo is well-taken. Perhaps, we can lengthen this a little bit more to read: "The right of the people WHETHER UNEMPLOYED OR EMPLOYED BY STATE OR PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENTS."

I want to avoid also the possibility of having this interpreted as applicable only to the employed.

MR. DE LOS REYES. Will the proponent accept an amendment to the amendment, Madam President?

MR. LERUM. Yes, as long as it will carry the idea that the right of the employees in the private sector is recognized.[24]

Lerum thus anchored his proposal on the fact that (1) government employees, supervisory employees, and security guards, who had the right to organize under the Industrial Peace Act, had been denied this right by the Labor Code, and (2) there was a need to reinstate the right of these employees. In consonance with his objective to reinstate the right of government, security, and supervisory employees to organize, Lerum then made his proposal:

MR. LERUM. Mr. Presiding Officer, after a consultation with several Members of this Commission, my amendment will now read as follows: "The right of the people INCLUDING THOSE EMPLOYED IN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS to form associations, unions, or societies for purposes not contrary to law shall not be abridged. In proposing that amendment I ask to make of record that I want the following provisions of the Labor Code to be automatically abolished, which read:

ART. 245. Security guards and other personnel employed for the protection and security of the person, properties and premises of the employers shall not be eligible for membership in a labor organization.

ART. 246. Managerial employees are not eligible to join, assist, and form any labor organization.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bengzon). What does the Committee say?

FR. BERNAS. The Committee accepts.

THE PRESIDING OFFICER. (Mr. Bengzon) The Committee has accepted the amendment, as amended.

Is there any objection? (Silence) The Chair hears none; the amendment, as amended, is approved.[25]

The question is what Commissioner Lerum meant in seeking to "automatically abolish" the then Art. 246 of the Labor Code. Did he simply want "any kind of wording as long as it will amount to absolute recognition of private sector employees, without exception, to organize"?[26] Or, did he instead intend to have his words taken in the context of the cause which moved him to propose the amendment in the first place, namely, the denial of the right of supervisory employees to organize, because he said, "We are afraid that without any corresponding provision covering the private sector, security guards, supervisory employees or majority [of] employees will still be excluded, and that is the purpose of this amendment"?[27]

It would seem that Commissioner Lerum simply meant to restore the right of supervisory employees to organize. For even though he spoke of the need to "abolish" Art. 246 of the Labor Code which, as already stated, prohibited "managerial employees" in general from forming unions, the fact was that in explaining his proposal, he repeatedly referred to "supervisory employees" whose right under the Industrial Peace Act to organize had been taken away by Art. 246. It is noteworthy that Commissioner Lerum never referred to the then definition of "managerial employees" in Art. 212(m) of the Labor Code which put together, under the broad phrase "managerial employees," top and middle managers and supervisors. Instead, his repeated use of the term "supervisory employees," when such term then was no longer in the statute books, suggests a frame of mind that remained grounded in the language of the Industrial Peace Act.

Nor did Lerum ever refer to the dictum in Caltex recognizing the right of all managerial employees to organize, despite the fact that the Industrial Peace Act did not expressly provide for the right of top and middle managers to organize. If Lerum was aware of the Caltex dictum, then his insistence on the use of the term "supervisory employees" could only mean that he was excluding other managerial employees from his proposal. If, on the other hand, he was not aware of the Caltex statement sustaining the right to organize to top and middle managers, then the more should his repeated use of the term "supervisory employees" be taken at face value, as it had been defined in the then Industrial Peace Act.

At all events, that the rest of the Commissioners understood his proposal to refer solely to supervisors and not to other managerial employees is clear from the following account of Commissioner Joaquin G. Bernas, who writes:

In presenting the modification on the 1935 and 1973 texts, Commissioner Eulogio R. Lerum explained that the modification included three categories of workers: (1) government employees, (2) supervisory employees, and (3) security guards. Lerum made of record the explicit intent to repeal provisions of P.D. 442, the Labor Code. The provisions referred to were:

ART. 245. Security guards and other personnel employed for the protection and security of the person, properties and premises of the employers shall not be eligible for membership in a labor organization.

ART. 246. Managerial employees are not eligible to join, assist, and form any labor organization.[28]28

Implications of the Lerum Proposal

In sum, Lerum's proposal to amend Art. III, 8 of the draft Constitution by including labor unions in the guarantee of organizational right should be taken in the context of statements that his aim was the removal of the statutory ban against security guards and supervisory employees joining labor organizations. The approval by the Constitutional Commission of his proposal can only mean, therefore, that the Commission intended the absolute right to organize of government workers, supervisory employees, and security guards to be constitutionally guaranteed. By implication, no similar absolute constitutional right to organize for labor purposes should be deemed to have been granted to top-level and middle managers. As to them the right of self-organization may be regulated and even abridged conformably to Art. III, 8.

Constitutionality of Art. 245

Finally, the question is whether the present ban against managerial employees, as embodied in Art. 245 (which superseded Art. 246) of the Labor Code, is valid. This provision reads:

ART. 245. Ineligibility of managerial employees to join any labor organization; right of supervisory employees. - Managerial employees are not eligible to join, assist or form any labor organization. Supervisory employees 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.[29]29

This provision is the result of the amendment of the Labor Code in 1989 by R.A. No. 6715, otherwise known as the Herrera-Veloso Law. Unlike the Industrial Peace Act or the provisions of the Labor Code which it superseded, R.A. No. 6715 provides separate definitions of the terms "managerial" and "supervisory employees," as follows:

ART. 212. Definitions. . . .

(m) "managerial employee" is one who is 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. 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.

Although the definition of "supervisory employees" seems to have been unduly restricted to the last phrase of the definition in the Industrial Peace Act, the legal significance given to the phrase "effectively recommends" remains the same. In fact, the distinction between top and middle managers, who set management policy, and front-line supervisors, who are merely responsible for ensuring that such policies are carried out by the rank and file, is articulated in the present definition.[30]30 When read in relation to this definition in Art. 212(m), it will be seen that Art. 245 faithfully carries out the intent of the Constitutional Commission in framing Art. III, 8 of the fundamental law.

Nor is the guarantee of organizational right in Art. III, 8 infringed by a ban against managerial employees forming a union. The right guaranteed in Art. III, 8 is subject to the condition that its exercise should be for purposes "not contrary to law." In the case of Art. 245, there is a rational basis for prohibiting managerial employees from forming or joining labor organizations. As Justice Davide, Jr., himself a constitutional commissioner, said in his ponencia in Philips Industrial Development, Inc. v. NLRC:[31]31

In the first place, all these employees, with the exception of the service engineers and the sales force personnel, are confidential employees. Their classification as such is not seriously disputed by PEO-FFW; the five (5) previous CBAs between PIDI and PEO-FFW explicitly considered them as confidential employees. By the very nature of their functions, they assist and act in a confidential capacity to, or have access to confidential matters of, persons who exercise managerial functions in the field of labor relations. As such, the rationale behind the ineligibility of managerial employees to form, assist or joint a labor union equally applies to them.

In Bulletin Publishing Co., Inc. v. Hon. Augusto Sanchez, this Court elaborated on this rationale, thus:

". . . 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."[32]

To be sure, the Court in Philips Industrial was dealing with the right of confidential employees to organize. But the same reason for denying them the right to organize justifies even more the ban on managerial employees from forming unions. After all, those who qualify as top or middle managers are executives who receive from their employers information that not only is confidential but also is not generally available to the public, or to their competitors, or to other employees. It is hardly necessary to point out that to say that the first sentence of Art. 245 is unconstitutional would be to contradict the decision in that case.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Martinez, and Purisima, JJ., concur.

Davide, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Panganiban, and Quisumbing, JJ., has separate, concurring and dissenting opinion.



[1] JAMES A.F. STONER & CHARLES WANKEL, MANAGEMENT 11 (3rd. ed., 1987).

[2] Id. (emphasis added)

[3] Atlantic Gulf & Pac. Co. of Manila v. Cir 113 Phil. 650 (1961).

[4] Record, pp. 53-54.

[5] 177 SCRA 93 (1989).

[6] Id., p. 1006

[7] Nasipit Lumber Co.

[8] 99 Phil. 497 (1956).

[9] G.R. No. 108996, Feb. 20, 1998.

[10] Nasipit Lumber Co.

[11] B.F. Goodrich Philippines, Inc.

[12] DOLE Record, pp. 144-145.

[13] Rollo, p. 46 (emphasis in original).

[14] Record, pp. 133-141.

[15] The rationale for excluding supervisors in the United States is given in the Report of the Committee on Education and Labor of the U.S. House of Representatives, quoted in NLRB

[16] R.A. No. 875 (1953), 2(k).

[17] Id., 3.17

[18] E.g., Filoil Refinery Corp.

[19] 47 SCRA 112 (1972) (res. on motion for reconsideration, per Fernando,

[20] 47 SCRA at 115-117.

[21] 44 SCRA 350, 363, n.3 (1972) (per Villamor,

[22] LABOR CODE, ART, 212(m).

[23] 1 RECORD OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION 761 (Session of July 18, 1986)

[24] Id., (emphasis added).

[25] Id., p. 762 (emphasis added).

[26] Id., at. 761.

[27] Ibid.

[28] THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES: A COMMENTARY 340-341 (1996).

[29] LABOR CODE, ART. 245, as amended by R.A. No. 6715, 18.

[30]2 CESARIO A. AZUCENA, THE LABOR CODE WITH COMMENTS AND CASES 172-173 (1996).

[31] 210 SCRA 339 (1992).

[32] Id., at 347-348.