The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and the union Unifor are currently in negotiations regarding a fair wage agreement for more than 350 St. Lawrence Seaway workers. However, the parties seem to be far apart in their positions, with the union seeking wage increases similar to those in the automotive industry, while the SLSMC argues that the situations are different. The SLSMC claims that Seaway workers have already negotiated salaries 10% above inflation over the past 20 years. The President and CEO of SLSMC, Terence Bowles, expressed concern about the impact of the current situation on stakeholders and the vital cargoes being transported through the Seaway.
The negotiations have been ongoing since June after the contract expired in March. Despite a second round of talks in September, the parties were still far from reaching an agreement. The union officials criticized the SLSMC for not being committed to reaching a collective bargaining agreement and called for them to take the negotiations seriously. The potential strike comes at a critical time for the agricultural industry, as it could have a huge impact on grain shipments.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is an essential route for shipping between the Atlantic Ocean and the upper Great Lakes. It consists of 13 Canadian locks and two American locks. The potential strike would close all of these locks, disrupting shipping traffic and affecting freight carriers. The strike would also have significant consequences for the agricultural industry, which is currently in the middle of harvest season. Over 200 million tons of freight are transported annually through the Seaway.