The first ever Notice to Arbitrate (NTA) case of RCMB-CAR filed on May 18, 2016 was resolved through amicable settlement of both parties. Dir. Gil G. Caragayan facilitated the settlement.

University of the Cordilleras Kapatiran ng mga Manggagawa filed an NTA against the University of the Cordilleras raising the issues on whether or not the suspension of Mr. Reuel Alexis Cababat for one year without pay has legal basis. The Union added the issue on whether or not Management violated the CBA when it meted Mr. Cababat   a one-year suspension 30 days after the administrative investigation instead of 10 days as provided by the CBA.  

Mr. Cababat, a faculty member was charged with sexual harassment when he texted his married student with a message, ”Can I text u. I do hope that your husband will not get angry?”

In the conciliation mediation conference, the Union requested Management to reduce the one-year suspension of Mr. Cababat to three months. Management reduced the suspension for six months. With the desire to settle the case, Dir. Caragayan proposed for both parties to meet half way by reducing the suspension to four months.  The conciliator’s proposal was rejected because Mr. Cababat will teach during the trimester which will affect the loading of faculty and students’ schedules.  The impasse led both parties to elevate the case to voluntary arbitration. It was not an easy road though.

Parties drew lots. AVA Florencio V. Bentrez, a newly elected provincial board member of Benguet, was chosen to arbitrate the case but later inhibited for too much workload. AVA Efren Alberto was the second choice. AVA Alberto met the parties and advised both to exhaust their grievance mechanism.

As it would be, the parties got tired.  The union and management of the University of the Cordilleras appeared on August 4, 2016 before Dir. Caragayan to terminate their dispute for the sake of industrial peace and harmony. Parties agreed that Mr. Cabatbat can return to work on the first trimester of 2016-2017. His suspension was reduced to three months as he earlier requested. For full settlement, parties agreed that no retaliatory actions arising from this labor dispute shall be filed by either party.

 Mediation, coaching, arbitration, and facilitation worked in this case. So, alternative dispute resolution works!

GIL G. CARAGAYAN