Yesterday, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) responded to a 72-hour strike notice presented on October 28 to the managers of Canada's thirteen St. Lawrence Seaway locks by Unifor, the union that represents the bulk of the SLSMC's workers. The strike notice, which was reportedly supported by 94 percent of the SLSMC's unionized employees says a work stoppage could begin as soon as 12:15 pm tomorrow.
For its part, the SLSMC says it plans to continue negotiations facilitated by a federally appointed mediator while at the same time, making preparations of an orderly shutdown of its operations on the international waterway.
While the SLSMC's U.S. counterpart, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) which operates the Eisenhower and Snell Locks at Massena, NY will remain open, the Canadian operations east and west of the SLSDC's operations will render the waterway effectively closed if the St. Lawrence Seaway System's Canadian workers go on strike.
The SLSDC's response can be found below or on the St. Lawrence Seaway website.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) was served with a 72-hour notice to strike by UNIFOR on October 28, 2014. The union intends to begin strike action as of 12:15 PM on Friday, October 31, 2014. UNIFOR represents the Seaway’s 460 unionized employees.
The SLSMC is currently in the process of implementing a modernization program which incorporates Hands Free Mooring and Remote Lock Operation. This program is essential to ensuring that the Seaway can operate on a basis that is both safe and sustainable. Contrary to union allegations, the SLSMC is confident that it will continue to process ships through its locks in a safe and secure manner.
Despite UNIFOR’s strike notice, the SLSMC remains committed to obtaining a fair settlement, and will continue to bargain in good faith with the assistance of a federally appointed mediator.
As a result of UNIFOR’s strike notification, SLSMC has started implementing its detailed plans for an orderly and safe shutdown of the system within the 72-hour notice period. Should the unionized workers proceed with strike action, as scheduled, the St. Lawrence Seaway will be closed to all traffic.