FMCS has played a key role in Panama. Specifically for the Panama Canal Labor Relations System. FMCS provided services to the U.S. Panama Canal Commission out of the Southern District. The FMCS role was multifaceted including mediation of collective bargaining agreements and midterm issues under the Federal Labor Relations Statute, and even some commercial mediation with the PCC/Army Corps of Engineers and its construction contractors. In addition, FMCS conducted numerous training programs for employees, union representatives, and management officials at the canal all focusing on the seamless transition of the Panama Canal to the Republic of Panama which transpired on December 31st, 1999. Every employee of the canal without exception was required to attend this Interest Based Problem Solving initiative to prepare for the transfer of the canal.
In addition to our traditional role offering services to Canal we were asked to help with the transition of the Labor Relations System from U.S. law to Panamanian law. This request led to the multi-year USAID funded effort to help develop the Labor Relations Section of the Organic Law and the Labor Relations Regulations for the Canal. This effort also involved FMCS training a cadre of Mediators and Arbitrators many of whom became Labor Board Members of the Panama Canal Authority. Over 30 FMCS personnel were involved in this project which did lead to the successful transfer of the Canal and to this date no work stoppages and a post USA history of labor peace.
THE PANAMA MEDIATOR CLASS OF 1999
Mediators involved in this project included David Thaler, Gary Hattal, Jane Lorber, Michael Wolf, David Weinberg, Pete Swanson, Inez Delgado, Sergio Delgado, Lou Manchise, Andrea Strimling, Beth Schindler, Denise McKenny, Lonnie Stokes, Doug Hammond, Richard Giacolone and Richard Barnes.