Agreement Reached to Resume Operations on St. Lawrence Seaway
MINNEAPOLIS — After a week-long strike, a breakthrough was made on Sunday to reopen the major shipping route in the Great Lakes. The strike had disrupted the flow of grain and other goods between the U.S. and Canada.
Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, had around 360 workers in Ontario and Quebec who walked out on October 22 over wage disputes with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
Seaway Management has announced that ships will resume operations when employees return to work on Monday at 7 a.m.
“Our agreement ensures fair treatment for workers and secures a prosperous future for the Seaway,” stated CEO Terence Bowles.
Unifor will hold a vote in the coming days to ratify the deal.
“The details of the tentative agreement will first be shared with our members, and once ratified, will be made public,” stated the union.
The strike resulted in the closure of 13 locks along the seaway, effectively trapping ships within the Great Lakes while preventing others from entering.
The St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes are interconnected through locks, canals, rivers, and lakes spanning over 2,300 miles. This vast system stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the western tip of Lake Superior in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Last year alone, it facilitated the transport of cargo worth over $12 billion. The seaway serves various types of ships, including oceangoing “salties” and Great Lakes freighters known as “lakers.”
This strike marks the first time in over five decades that the vital shipping artery has been shut down since 1968.
According to estimates by the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the strike caused a staggering loss of up to $100 million per day in economic activity across both Canada and the U.S. This disruption occurred during one of the busiest periods for the seaway.
“We are relieved that this critical halt in Seaway traffic has finally come to an end, allowing us to once again address the needs of consumers worldwide,” commented chamber president Bruce Burrows on Sunday.