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On the question of expeditious passage, we do have some ambiguity there. What does it really mean? I could not get a definitive interpretation from the Governor General who is running the Panama Canal Co. as to what the words would really mean. In time of war, they might mean one thing. But I pointed out that there may be a situation where we would need to move some ships rapidly to show our presence, such as in Tunisia, when it was being threatened by Libya. Let's assume that we had to get our ships very quickly through the canal, but that it is peacetime. What if the Panamanians have a relationship with Qadhafi? If we say it is important to us to get our ships through the canal and we want to go right to the head of the line would we have the right to do so under the terms of this treaty?
Would you, as a negotiator, give us your interpretation of that?
Second, do you see some advantage to attempting to clarify these points to minimize the risk of later misunderstandings?
Mr. GERBER. It is my understanding, Senator Percy, that Panama's negotiators have made it clear that "expeditious passage” means the speediest possible passage, the speediest possible transit.
In negotiations we try to settle things in a civilized manner. In the negotiation of a contract, if we cannot agree on language, we would hope that the language would speak for itself; otherwise, we would either have a conflict to be submitted to arbitration, or a strike.
In this case it would seem to me that the language is not clear, that if it were put to the test, the Panamanians would, of necessity, have to agree to give us expeditious passage.
On the other hand, no matter what language we have in a contract, or in this document, if people are going to play tricks, they can play tricks despite the language. We have had clear-cut language in our agreements, and they have been violated by the companies, despite this clarity of language. Then it depends upon our strength to persuade one way or the other, to get our point of view across.
In tħis situation it seems to me that once past the year 2000—that is what we are talking about–if we do not have the military strength to protect our position in the Panama Canal, if we do not have the military strength to protect our position anywhere in the world, treaties will mean very little.
Mr. SCHLOSSBERG. Senator, may I add a word to that please ?
Mr. SCHLOSSBERG. As I read the treaty, there is a specific exception for American warships to go through. I think that is necessary because a neutral body of water usually in time of war does not permit warships to go through. But our warships are given a specific exception under the right of expeditious passage.
It would seem to me that a recognition of that fact-and in time of war a neutral body of water, under international law, usually excludes warships--would indicate that we really have an expeditious
passage, which means as speedy as possible, and I don't know how you could get any more speedy than that. I think the use of the word -priority” might lead to more difficulty.
However, we are not taking a position against the Senate and the Government if you feel that some more clarification is necessary. It is our position, however, that we would be content with this provision.
Senator PERCY. I have one final question.
CANAL ZONE EMPLOYEE INTEREST PROTECTION
You said that the treaties adequately protect the interests of the employees in the Canal Zone and you have indicated that you do not have members of the UAW working on a regular basis in the zone. Could you tell us, then, how you reached the conclusion that the treaties adequately protect the interests of the employees? Also, does your judgment coincide with the majority of Canal Zone employees, some of whom will be testifying?
Mr. GERBER. Şenator Percy, the gentleman to whom I referred as a UAW official is here. He can answer that question.
Mr. SCHLOSSBERG. Senator Percy, I don't want to mislead the committee in any way. We did not conduct a plebiscite and we have not made a trip to the soil of Panama. But I did have a lengthy discussion with John Williams, who is the president of the pilots, who will be on a panel here to testify before you this morning. It was my impression from him that these treaties do adequately protect labor standards and do take care of the people who have been valuable servants.
I was impressed with Mr. Williams, as I am sure you will be, in that he was interested not only in trying to protect the U.S. citizens who are employees of either the Government or the Panama Canal Corporation, but also the Panamanians who have worked for years and who have given loyal service to those two entities, to the Government and the Panama Canal Company.
We had quite a lengthy discussion on this matter before Mr. Gerber and I went to Canada to the board meeting at which we passed this resolution. It was my impression from him—and I don't mean to commit him in any way—that the treaties do adequately provide for protection of the employees. We would be interested in that because that is one of the goals that we always have.
We have been disturbed over the years that society often takes steps that put the whole burden for a societal advantage on one group. We were glad to see that they were not disadvantaged.
Senator PERCY. Gentlemen, thank you very much, indeed, for your testimony.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to make the suggestion to all of our witnesses today that they reply to questions that may be submitted for the hearing record.
Mr. GERBER. We would be happy to do so.
Mr. SCHLOSSBERG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
COMMITTEE QUESTIONS FOB MARTIN GERBER, UMW 1. In your statement you mentioned contacts with Latin American trade unionists. What have been their reactions to the present situation in Panama ? Have you discussed with them the terms of the Treaties, and, if so, what views have they expressed on the specifics of the Treaties? Is there any concern among Latin union leaders that increased tolls or Panamanian control of the Canal will be harmful to their national economies?
2. Do you anticipate that increased tolls will have any significant impact on consumer prices in the United States or any adverse effects on our economic and employment situations?
3. In your view, will our allies in the Pacific and in Europe feel that the return of the Canal Zone to Panama and the phase-out of U.S. control of the Canal is evidence the United States is becoming isolationist. Do you think our allies will have legitimate reasons to question our ability and willingness to maintain our mutual defense commitments if we ratify the Treaties?
4. Your statement cites your experience as a negotiator and your conclusion that it is sometimes good "not to dot every 'i' and cross every it." Do you think the language of the Neutrality Treaty also provide the flexibility you indicated was desirable ?
5. The UAW has traditionally been in the forefront in the area of human rights. Do you have any information on the human rights. Do you have any information on the human rights situation in Panama ? If conditions are as bad as some testimony to the Committee has alleged, would your support for the Treaties be affected? Would rejection of the Treaties increase the difficulty of pursuing human rights initiatives in Panama and Latin America ?
INTERNATIONAL UNIÓN, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE
Washington, D.O., November 10, 1977.
DEAR Ms. Alonso, Mr. Gerber has asked me to respond to the five questions sent him in connection with his testimony on the ratification of the Panama Canal Treaties.
1. We have not discussed the Canal treaties directly with Latin American trade unionists since they were negotiated. In the past, we have had general discussion with South American trade unionists, and, on that basis, we believe they would generally support the treaties.
2. We do not believe that increased tolls will have a significant impact on consumer prices or employment in the United States.
3. We believe that the return of the Canal and the phase out of U.S. control will enhance U.S status in the world and will lead other nations to regard us more favorably. There is no likelihood that these treaties reasonably evidence that this country is becoming “isolationist" Ratification, in our view, will not lead our allies to question our ability and willingness to maintain mutual defense commitments. On the contrary, it will demonstrate a new realism and commitment toward international responsibility.
4. We believe the treaty language is both sufficiently specific and flexible.
5. The UAW has, and always will be, concerned with human rights, but we believe the maintenance of a U.S. colonial enclave in Panama will not contribute to human rights in Panama or elsewhere. Sincerely,
STEPHAN I. SCHLOSSBERG,
Director, Government and Public Affairs The CHAIRMAN. Next we will hear from a panel of three witnesses: Alfred J. Graham, president, Canal Zone Central Labor Union and Metal Trades Council, AFL-CIO; Capt. J. R. Williams, president,
Panama Canal Pilots' Association; and Rene C. Lioeanjia, regional director, Central and South America, National Maritime Union.
Gentlemen, if you will take your places at the table, we would be glad to hear from you.
We have a statement from Mr. Graham.
Mr. Graham, your statement will be printed in full in the record and we would be glad for you to proceed as you see fit. Please hold your time to 7 minutes.
Please proceed. [Mr. Graham's biography follows:] BIOGRAPHY OF ALFRED J. GRAHAM, PRESIDENT OF THE CANAL ZONE CENTRAL
LABOB UNION AND METAL TBADES COUNCIL, AFL-CIO Born: April 4, 1933, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Canal Zone: Arrived in the Canal Zone on August 25, 1944. Completed education to high school level in Canal Zone.
Military: Served in U.S. Air Force from July 8, 1951 to June 30, 1955.
Panama Canal Company : Hired by Panama Canal Company on September 15, 1955 as locks security guard. Awarded electrical apprenticeship July 9, 1962. Graduated July 8, 1966. Hired as locks operator electrician on Pacific Locks on July 9, 1966 and remains Pacific Locks employee.
Present position : Supervisory Control House Operator, Electrical.
Labor experience: 1957–62 President and Secretary A.F.G.E. Lodge 1780; 1966–71 President IBEW Local 397; 1973 to present President Canal Zone Central Labor Union and Metal Trades Council.
STATEMENT OF ALFRED J. GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, CANAL ZONE
CENTRAL LABOR UNION AND METAL TRADES COUNCIL, AFL-CIO, ACCOMPANIED BY WILLIAM R. DRUMMOND, LEGISLATIVE CHAIRMAN, CANAL ZONE CENTRAL LABOR UNION AND METAL TRADES COUNCIL
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will do that. I will go through our report and only bring out what we feel are the important issues at this time.
My name is Alfred J. Graham. I am president of the Canal Zone Central Labor Union and Metal Trades Council [CLU-MTC], which represents 14 local unions in the Canal Zone, affiliated with 9 national AFL-CIO unions.
We represent the largest group of U.S. citizen employees of the Panama Canal Company-Canal Zone Government.
EMPLOYEE PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES
We will start with employee privileges and immunities.
This seems to be the major question with the AFL-CIO. We will make the statement for the record that for the most part the employee privileges and immunities written into the treaty are satisfactory.
We are running into problems with the Department of Defense because on good faith we accepted the treaty language to mean "all employees," and as a result of the way the treaty was written, there is now a separation between those who will be turned over to DOD and those who will work for the commission.
This was not the intent of the U.S. State Department. However, the Department of Defense is making an issue out of it. The result is that we may have problems with our school teacher work force and our hospital work force.
It goes without saying that these support people are very important to the total operation of the Panama Canal, indeed very important to all of us.
As a result of the July meeting of the AFL-CIO Panama Canal Committee, I was elected by the committee and
appointed by AFLCIO President George Meany to be the AFL-CIO labor advisor to the U.S. treaty negotiating team. I worked with the U.S. treaty team on treaty labor matters until August 26, 1977. Most of the labor provisions we required are included in the new treaty.
One of the most important labor provisions, optional open-ended early retirement, will require legislation. However, we are grateful for the attention of President Carter and his staff to this matter and their helping us to secure a promise of the legislation within the treaty language.
I have already discussed the DOD problem. The Panama Canal Company now is looking over the possibility of employees losing repatriation rights, which could affect approximately 50 percent of the U.S. work force.
This is a problem that we will have to take care of on the local level in the Canal Zone with existing Federal regulations.
We are not too satisfied with the treaty language which states that “Conditions will be generally no less favorable” than they are today. Use of the word "generally” has put us in the position where treaty language possibly could be manipulated by the U.S. Government.
The Panama Canal Agency will not allow employees at the present time to request and enforce an agency for transfers from the Agency in the Canal Zone to a Federal agency in the United States. This is a self-interest proposal, of course, because they wish to keep the work force as intact as they possibly can. However, we do have a problem in this area.
Concerning labor legislation, we will be seeking labor legislation for optional open-ended early retirement and unemployment compensation for non-U.S. citizen employees. We are deeply concerned with the non-U.S. citizen employees.
With us it is almost an emotional issue. We have had up to five generations of West Indian and Jamaican employees working for the Panama Canal. They are very important to us. Approximately 5,000 of these employees will lose their jobs if the treaty is ratified. We want to get them all the protection that we possibly can.
Although it would appear, except for those important issues cited above, that the treaties provide sufficient labor protections, we wish to go on record at this time opposing the new Panama-United States treaties. President Meany does not speak for the affiliated local unions of the CLUMTC when he supports these treaties.
At this time, I would like to make it clear that I am speaking for the Canal Zone Central Labor Union and Metal Trades Council and for no other unions in the Canal Zone- just the ones affiliated with the council.
President Meany's office is not aware, as we are, that the present provisions of this treaty, by excluding all of the above, will not pro