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Supreme Court: Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors cannot be considered "high-level employees" of the institution

Supreme Court: Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors cannot be considered "high-level employees" of the institution/University.


UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HON. PURA FERRER-CALLEJA,
G.R. No. 96189 July 14, 1992
NARVASA, C.J.:

 

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HON. PURA FERRER-CALLEJA,

FACTS:

In this special civil action of certiorari the University of the Philippines seeks the nullification of the Order dated October 30, 1990 of Director Pura Ferrer-Calleja of the Bureau of Labor Relations holding that "professors, associate professors and assistant professors (of the University of the Philippines) are . .rank-and-file employees . . ;" consequently, they should, together with the so-called non-academic, non-teaching, and all other employees of the University, be represented by only one labor organization. 1 The University is joined in this undertaking by the Solicitor General who "has taken a position not contrary to that of petitioner and, in fact, has manifested . . that he is not opposing the petition . . ."

The case was initiated in the Bureau of Labor Relations by a petition filed by a registered labor union, the "Organization of Non-Academic Personnel of UP" (ONAPUP).  Claiming to have a membership of 3,236 members — comprising more than 33% of the 9,617 persons constituting the non-academic personnel of UP-Diliman, Los BaƱos, Manila, and Visayas, it sought the holding of a certification election among all said non-academic employees of the University of the Philippines. At a conference thereafter held in the Bureau, the University stated that it had no objection to the election.

 

On April 18, 1990, another registered labor union, the "All UP Workers' Union,"  filed a comment, as intervenor in the certification election proceeding. Alleging that its membership covers both academic and non-academic personnel, and that it aims to unite all UP rank-and-file employees in one union, it declared its assent to the holding of the election provided the appropriate organizational unit was first clearly defined. It observed in this connection that the Research, Extension and Professional Staff (REPS), who are academic non-teaching personnel, should not be deemed part of the organizational unit.

 

For its part, the University, through its General Counsel, made of record its view that there should be two (2) unions: one for academic, the other for non-academic or administrative, personnel considering the dichotomy of interests, conditions and rules governing these employee groups.

 

Director Calleja ruled on the matter and declared that "the appropriate organizational unit . . should embrace all the regular rank-and-file employees, teaching and non-teaching, of the University of the Philippines, including all its branches" and that there was no sufficient evidence "to justify the grouping of the non-academic or administrative personnel into an organization unit apart and distinct from that of the academic or teaching personnel."

 

The University would now have this Court declare void the Director's Order of October 30, 1990 as well as that of November 20, 1990. 11 A temporary restraining order was issued by the Court, by Resolution dated December 5, 1990 conformably to the University's application therefor.

 

Issues:

1.    whether or not professors, associate professors and assistant professors are "high-level employees" "whose functions are normally considered policy determining, managerial or . . highly confidential in nature."

2.    whether or not, they, and other employees performing academic functions, should comprise a collective bargaining unit distinct and different from that consisting of the non-academic employees of the University, considering the dichotomy of interests, conditions and rules existing between them.

Held:

 

1.    No. In light of Executive Order No. 180 and its implementing rules, as well as the University's charter and relevant regulations, the professors, associate professors and assistant professors (hereafter simply referred to as professors) cannot be considered as exercising such managerial or highly confidential functions as would justify their being categorized as "high-level employees" of the institution.

Reason:

a.    Academic Personnel Committees composed of professors– created constituted "in order to foster greater involvement of the faculty and other academic personnel in appointments, promotions, and other personnel matters that directly affect them."

b.    Board of Regents created University Academic Personnel Board to "assist(ing) in the review of the recommendations initiated by the Department Chairman with regard to recruitment, selection, performance evaluation, tenure and staff development, in accordance with the general guidelines formulated by the University Academic Personnel Board and the implementing details laid down by the College Academic Personnel Committee

Hence, their are purely recommendatory in nature, subject to review and evaluation by the University Academic Personnel Board.  X x x Significantly, the personnel actions that may be recommended by the departmental and college academic personnel committees must conform with the general guidelines drawn up by the university personnel academic committee. This being the case, the members of the departmental and college academic personnel committees are not unlike the chiefs of divisions and sections of the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority whom this Court considered as rank-and-file employees in National Waterworks & Sewerage Authority vs. NWSA Consolidated Unions, 22 because "given ready policies to execute and standard practices to observe for their execution, . . . they have little freedom of action, as their main function is merely to carry out the company's orders, plans and policies."

 

The power or prerogative pertaining to a high-level employee "to effectively recommend such managerial actions, to formulate or execute management policies or decisions and/or to hire, transfer, suspend, lay-off, recall, dismiss, assign or discipline employees" 23 is exercised to a certain degree by the university academic personnel board/committees and ultimately by the Board of Regents in accordance with Section 6 of the University Charter.

 

Even assuming arguendo that UP professors discharge policy-determining functions through the University Council, still such exercise would not qualify them as high-level employees within the context of E.O. 180. As correctly observed by private respondent, "Executive Order No. 180 is a law concerning public sector unionism. It must therefore be construed within that context. Within that context, the University of the Philippines represents the government as an employer. 'Policy-determining' refers to policy-determination in university mattes that affect those same matters that may be the subject of negotiation between public sector management and labor. The reason why 'policy-determining' has been laid down as a test in segregating rank-and-file from management is to ensure that those who lay down policies in areas that are still negotiable in public sector collective bargaining do not themselves become part of those employees who seek to change these policies for their collective welfare.

The policy-determining functions of the University Council refer to academic matters, i.e. those governing the relationship between the University and its students, and not the University as an employer and the professors as employees. It is thus evident that no conflict of interest results in the professors being members of the University Council and being classified as rank-and-file employees.

 

2.    Yes. A "bargaining unit" has been defined as a group of employees of a given employer, comprised of all or less than all of the entire body of employees, which the collective interest of all the employees, consistent with equity to the employer, indicate to be the best suited to serve the reciprocal rights and duties of the parties under the collective bargaining provisions of the law.

 

Our labor laws do not however provide the criteria for determining the proper collective bargaining unit. Section 12 of the old law, Republic Act No. 875 otherwise known as the Industrial Peace Act though incorporated into the Labor Code no guidelines for determination of an appropriate bargaining unit.  Even Executive Order No. 180 already adverted to is not much help.

 

In Democratic Labor Association vs. Cebu Stevedoring Company, Inc., decided on February 28, 1958, 31 the Court observed that "the issue of how to determine the proper collective bargaining unit and what unit would be appropriate to be the collective bargaining agency" . . .

 

. . . Under these precedents, there are various factors which must be satisfied and considered in determining the proper constituency of a bargaining unit. No one particular factor is itself decisive of the determination. The weight accorded to any particular factor varies in accordance with the particular question or questions that may arise in a given case. What are these factors? Rothenberg mentions a good number, but the most pertinent to our case are: (1) will of the employees (Globe Doctrine); (2) affinity and unit of employees' interest, such as substantial similarity of work and duties, or similarity of compensation and working conditions; (3) prior collective bargaining history; and (4) employment status, such as temporary, seasonal probationary employees. . . .

 

xxx xxx xxx

 

the basic test in determining the appropriate bargaining unit is that a unit, to be appropriate, must affect a grouping of employees who have substantial, mutual interests in wages, hours, working conditions and other subjects of collective bargaining (citing Smith on Labor Laws, 316-317; Francisco, Labor Laws, 162). . . .

 

"(t)he test of the grouping is community or mutuality of interests. And this is so because 'the basic test of an asserted bargaining unit's acceptability is whether or not it is fundamentally the combination which will best assure to all employees the exercise of their collective bargaining rights' (Rothenberg on Labor Relations, 490)." Hence, in that case, the Court upheld the trial court's conclusion that two separate bargaining units should be formed, one consisting of regular and permanent employees and another consisting of casual laborers or stevedores.

 

Since then, the "community or mutuality of interests" test has provided the standard in determining the proper constituency of a collective bargaining unit.

 

In the case at bar, the University employees may, as already suggested, quite easily be categorized into two general classes: one, the group composed of employees whose functions are non-academic, i.e., janitors, messengers, typists, clerks, receptionists, carpenters, electricians, grounds-keepers, chauffeurs, mechanics, plumbers;  and two, the group made up of those performing academic functions, i.e., full professors, associate professors, assistant professors, instructors — who may be judges or government executives — and research, extension and professorial staff.  Not much reflection is needed to perceive that the community or mutuality of interests which justifies the formation of a single collective bargaining unit is wanting between the academic and non-academic personnel of the university. It would seem obvious that teachers would find very little in common with the University clerks and other non-academic employees as regards responsibilities and functions, working conditions, compensation rates, social life and interests, skills and intellectual pursuits, cultural activities, etc. On the contrary, the dichotomy of interests, the dissimilarity in the nature of the work and duties as well as in the compensation and working conditions of the academic and non-academic personnel dictate the separation of these two categories of employees for purposes of collective bargaining. The formation of two separate bargaining units, the first consisting of the rank-and-file non-academic personnel, and the second, of the rank-and-file academic employees, is the set-up that will best assure to all the employees the exercise of their collective bargaining rights. These special circumstances, i.e., the dichotomy of interests and concerns as well as the dissimilarity in the nature and conditions of work, wages and compensation between the academic and non-academic personnel, bring the case at bar within the exception contemplated in Section 9 of Executive Order No. 180. It was grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Labor Relations Director to have ruled otherwise, ignoring plain and patent realities.


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