Chapter V, Section Two

ORGANIC LAW PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITY
PANAMA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
LAW No. 19
(of June 11, 1997)
"WHEREBY THE PANAMA CANAL AUTHORITY IS ORGANIZED"

Chapter V - Personnel Administration and Labor Relations

Section Two - Labor Relations


Article 94. Labor-management relations in the Authority shall be governed by the provisions of this Section, the Regulations, and collective bargaining agreements. The provisions of this Section must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the requirements of an effective and efficient Authority as the steward of this service.

Article 95. Workers who are members or who are eligible for membership in a bargaining unit shall have the right to do the following:

  1. To freely establish or join labor unions or participate or refrain from participating in them, and, in all instances, to be protected in the exercise of their right.
  2. To act on behalf of a labor union as its representative and, in this capacity, present the views of the labor union before appropriate forums.
  3. To engage in collective bargaining concerning issues that are subject to negotiation through representatives chosen by the workers pursuant to this section.
  4. To request the presence of the corresponding exclusive representative in any investigation by a representative of the Authority which the worker has reason to believe may result in disciplinary action against him or her.
  5. To seek to resolve conflicts with the administration of the Authority following applicable procedures established in this Law, the Regulations, or collective bargaining agreements.
  6. To be represented by their exclusive representative, whether or not they are members of the union.

Article 96. All workers who are members of a bargaining unit shall have the right to have their union dues deducted from their salaries, regularly and periodically, as members of the corresponding union for their bargaining unit. The Authority shall make such deductions, which must be authorized in writing by each worker, free of cost to the union or to the employee. Such authorizations may not be revoked for a period of one year.

Article 97. An exclusive representative shall have the right to:

  1. Represent the workers of a bargaining unit and be protected in the exercise of this right.
  2. Negotiate collective bargaining agreements concerning issues subject to negotiation, that include all workers of a bargaining unit.
  3. Represent the interests of all workers of a bargaining unit, whether or not they are members of the union.
  4. Submit and process grievances on their own behalf or that of any worker of a bargaining unit following the applicable negotiated grievance procedures established by this Law, the Regulations, and the corresponding collective bargaining agreement.
  5. Be present during the formal procedures of any grievance submitted by the worker on his own.
  6. Participate in any formal meetings between the administration of the Authority and the workers with respect to any grievance or matter concerning employment conditions.
  7. Submit to arbitration any conflict they consider has not been resolved satisfactorily through negotiated grievance procedures.
  8. Participate in the development and revision of any regulations that may affect working conditions and which are subject to approval by the Board of Directors of the Authority in accordance with the National Constitution.

Provisional Paragraph: The bargaining units and their exclusive representatives recognized on December 31, 1999, may continue to perform as such under the Authority for up to 12 months, counted from December 31, 1999, while their recognition and certification are processed by the Board of Labor Relations.

Article 98. Labor unions shall have the right to maintain their affiliation with international labor organizations.

Article 99. Workers may be granted representational time to carry out their authorized representational duties, provided this activity is carried out during the time the worker was scheduled to work. The purpose of granting representational time is to avoid loss of salaries or benefits by the worker to which he would have a right if he were not carrying out his duties as a representative. Representational time may not be authorized for recruitment, officer elections, or dues collection activities, nor for other internal union business.

Article 100. The administration of the Authority shall have the right to:

  1. Determine the mission, budget, organization, number of workers, and internal security practices of the Authority.
  2. Hire, assign, direct, dismiss, and retain workers of the Authority; suspend, remove, reduce in grade or pay, or take other disciplinary actions against workers.
  3. Assign work, make decisions with respect to contracting out, and determine the personnel needed for the activities related to the operation of the Canal.
  4. Select, for hiring and promotion purposes, those candidates who have been duly evaluated and certified as the best qualified, from lists or other appropriate sources, as established in the Regulations.
  5. Undertake the necessary actions to carry out the mission of the Authority during an emergency.

Article 101. The obligation of the Authority, as well as that of any exclusive representative, to negotiate in good faith shall be defined and developed in the Regulations and shall include, as a minimum, the requirement that the parties to the negotiations be represented by workers expressly empowered to enter into agreements that are binding on the parties they represent, not precluding that neither party may be compelled or obliged to accept or to agree to a proposal or to make any concession.

The Authority management, upon request, shall provide the exclusive representative with the pertinent data on the subjects discussed within the scope of the collective negotiation according to the Regulations, as long as the provision of said data is allowable under this Law.

Article 102. Negotiations between Authority management and any exclusive representative, provided they are not in conflict with this Law and the Regulations, shall deal with the following matters:

  1. Those that affect the employment conditions of the workers of a bargaining unit, except those related to position classification and those expressly established by this Law or are a result of same.
  2. The procedures used to implement the decisions of the administration of the Authority, pursuant to Article 100 of this Law, as well as the adequate measures applied to the worker who is adversely affected by such decisions, unless such decisions have only a slight impact on the working conditions.
  3. The number, type, and grade of the workers who may be assigned to an organizational unit, project, or work schedule; the technology and the means and methods used to accomplish a job. The obligation to negotiate these matters shall be subject to the application of an interest-based method of negotiation and not the adversarial positions of the parties. This interest-based method shall be established by the Regulations. The interests of the parties should necessarily promote the objective of improving quality and productivity, service to the user, operational efficiency of the Canal, and quality of the work environment.

Article 103. With the purpose of improving the operation of the Authority, the administration of the Authority and the unions, with the participation of exclusive representatives, may work jointly as partners to improve their labor relationship, identify problems, and find solutions.

Article 104. Each collective bargaining agreement shall have a grievance procedure, including arbitration and alternate dispute resolution techniques, which shall be binding for both parties. This procedure shall constitute the exclusive administrative mechanism for the resolution of disputes.

Article 105. The following matters are excluded from the grievance procedure to which the preceding article refers:

  1. Prohibited political activities pursuant to Article 88 of this Law.
  2. Retirement, life and medical insurance.
  3. Tests, certifications, and personnel appointments.
  4. Classification of any position that does not result in a grade or salary reduction.
  5. Those excluded from collective bargaining agreements by mutual agreement.

Article 106. Arbitration is the final administrative recourse in disputes and shall be governed by the provisions of this Law, the Regulations, and the collective bargaining agreements. If arbitration is sought, the decision shall be binding.

For the purposes of this Section, only the Authority or the exclusive representative may invoke arbitration.

The cost of arbitration shall be divided equally between the Authority and the corresponding labor organization.

Article 107. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 106, arbitration decisions may be appealed before the Third Section of the Supreme Court of Justice within 30 work days from the notification of the corresponding decision. Said appeal shall stay the effect of the arbitration decision, but such appeal may proceed only when based upon an erroneous interpretation of the Law or the Regulations, because of manifest partiality of the arbitrator, or noncompliance of due process in the course of the arbitration.

Article 108. For the purposes of this Section, the following shall be considered unfair labor practices on the part of the Authority:

  1. To interfere with, restrain, or coerce a worker in the exercise of any rights to which he is entitled under the provisions of this Section.
  2. To encourage or discourage membership of any worker in a labor organization, by discriminating against him in relation to appointments, job security, promotions, or other employment conditions.
  3. To sponsor, control, or otherwise assist a union, except that, upon request by same, the Authority provides the usual services and facilities, as long as such services and facilities are also offered to other unions under the same conditions.
  4. To discipline or otherwise discriminate against a worker because the worker has filed a complaint, an affidavit or a petition, or has given information or rendered testimony as established in this Section.
  5. To fail or refuse to consult or negotiate in good faith with a union, as required by this Section.
  6. To fail to cooperate with the procedures and decisions to resolve negotiation impasses.
  7. To enforce any rule or regulation that is in conflict with the applicable collective bargaining agreement, if it was in effect prior to the date that such rule or regulation was issued.
  8. To fail or refuse to comply with any provisions of this Section.

Article 109. For the purposes of this Chapter, the following shall be considered unfair labor practices by a union:

  1. To interfere with, restrict, or coerce a worker in the exercise of any right under this Section.
  2. To cause, or attempt to cause, the Authority to discriminate against a worker in the exercise of any right to which he is entitled under the provisions of this Section.
  3. To coerce, discipline, fine, or attempt to coerce a member of the labor union in punishment or reprisal, or for the purpose of hindering or impeding the performance of his duties or his productivity or from complying with his duties on the job.
  4. To discriminate against a worker concerning the terms or conditions for joining a union on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, political affiliation, marital status, or physical handicap.
  5. To refuse to consult or negotiate in good faith with the administration of the Authority, as required by this Section.
  6. To fail to cooperate with procedures and decisions to resolve negotiation impasses.
  7. To call, or participate in, a strike, work stoppage, or slowdown, or picketing the Authority during a labor-management dispute.
  8. To condone any of the activities described in item 7 of this Article by failing to take action to prevent or stop the activity.
  9. Otherwise fail or refuse to comply with the provisions of this Section.

Notwithstanding the provisions of items 7 and 8 of this Article, picketing that does not interfere with the operations of the Authority shall not be considered an unfair labor practice.

Article 110. For the purposes of this Section, it shall be considered an unfair labor practice for an exclusive representative to refuse membership to any worker in the bargaining unit he represents, unless the worker:

  1. Does not meet the occupational requirements normally required by the labor organization for membership.
  2. Does not pay the dues that are required as a condition for joining and retaining membership.

The provisions of this Section shall not prevent a labor organization from imposing disciplinary actions in accordance with the procedures contemplated in its by-laws, provided they are consistent with the provisions of this Section.

Article 111. A Labor Relations Board is hereby created for the purpose of promoting cooperation and understanding in good labor-management relations and to resolve any labor-management disputes under its jurisdiction. The Labor Relations Board shall consist of five members, designated by the President of the Republic, from lists supplied by the administration of the Authority and the exclusive representatives.

The Labor Relations Board will make decisions with full autonomy and independence, and its decisions will be of mandatory compliance by the parties. The members of the Labor Relations Board will serve for a period of five years and may be reappointed.

The first designation will be for staggered terms so that the terms do not conclude at the same time. The Chairmanship of the Board will be held for a one-year period and shall rotate among the members of the Board.

Article 112. The Labor Relations Board will prepare its own budget and submit it for approval by the Board of Directors to become part of the general budget of the Authority, and will appoint the staff required for the fulfillment of its duties.

The Board will submit an annual report of its activities to the President of the Republic.

Article 113. The Labor Relations Board shall have exclusive jurisdiction in the exercise of the following functions:

  1. To issue its own regulations.
  2. To resolve disputes on negotiability.
  3. To resolve negotiation impasses.
  4. To resolve charges of unfair labor practices.
  5. To recognize, certify, and revoke certifications of the exclusive representatives; determine and certify appropriate bargaining units in accordance with the Regulations, as well as to revoke the recognition of any labor organization that violates the provisions of Article 92. The Labor Relations Board will grant exclusive representation to the labor organization elected as exclusive representative by secret ballot by a majority of the workers of that unit who cast lawful votes in an election.

Article 114. The Labor Relations Board shall promptly process any matter subject to its jurisdiction that is submitted for its consideration. In accordance with its regulations, it shall have discretionary power to recommend to the parties the procedures for the resolution of the matter or to resolve it by the means and procedures it deems appropriate.

The decisions of the Labor Relations Board may not be appealed, unless they are in conflict with this Law, in which case the appeal must be brought before the Administrative Disputes Section of the Supreme Court of Justice, whose decision shall be definitive and binding.

Article 115. To facilitate the performance of its duties, the Labor Relations Board may, at its discretion:

  1. Appoint persons to establish the facts.
  2. Appoint investigators, facilitators, mediators and arbitrators knowledgeable of the special employment regime that applies to the Authority, based on experience or training obtained thereto.
  3. Hold hearings.
  4. Administer oaths, take sworn statements, and issue subpoenas.
  5. Order the Authority or a labor organization to cease and desist from future violations of the provisions of this Section and demand that corrective measures be taken in the case of noncompliance with said provisions.
  6. Request that the pertinent court enforce any decision, temporary indemnity, or ban issued by the Labor Relations Board.

Article 116. The members of the Labor Relations Board may be suspended or removed from their positions by the President of the Republic for proven physical, mental, or administrative incompetence upon the recommendation of Authority management and the exclusive representatives.

The suspension or removal of the members of the Labor Relations Board may be carried out, notwithstanding any applicable penalty for criminal actions.

Article 117. To comply with the provisions on arbitration pursuant to Árticles 104 and 106 of this Law, arbitrators will act autonomously and independently of the Labor Relations Board. They shall be selected on the basis of their experience and background, as well as their knowledge of the special labor regime applicable to the Authority based on their experience or training obtained thereto and will be subject to a rotation system. The Labor Relations Board will maintain lists of qualified arbitrators to furnish to the parties whenever either one invokes arbitration pursuant to Articles 104 and 106 of this Law.

Chapter VI Canal Maintenance