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Strike possible on Saint Lawrence Seaway

Journal Of Commerce

The Canadian Auto Workers has issued a 72-hour strike notice to St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which manages the route used to ship major commodities including iron, steel and stone.

CAW represents supervisory, operations, maintenance and headquarters workers of St. Lawrence Seaway Management, which controls shipping for two locks in the St. Lawrence River. It also controls the eight locks in the Welland Canal, which bypasses the Niagara River between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

A strike could come as early as Monday, Oct. 3.

In August, a total of 4.5 million tonnes of iron ore were shipped through the seaway, according to the Saint Lawrence Seaway Management website. This is the combined total of shipments going through the Welland Canal and through the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Kingston.

The company and the union are scheduled to continue bargaining over the weekend with the assistance of an officer from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

CAW Locals 4211, 4212, 4319, 4320 and 4323 represent 475 St. Lawrence Seaway workers.

“The 72-hour notice has become necessary to get bargaining moving in the right direction,” CAW stated in a press release.

According to Saint Lawrence Seaway Management, iron and steel products, raw and processed, have been a major category of cargo for the seaway since it opened in 1959.

The seaway can handle ships up to 740 feet long and up to 78 feet in the beam. In 1998, operational control of the Canadian portion was transferred to St. Lawrence Seaway Management from the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority. The federal government owns the infrastructure and acts as the regulator.


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