St. Lawrence Seaway strike averted

The following is the text of a news release from Unifor:

(CORNWALL, Ontario) (Nov. 2) — In a deal reached this evening, five Unifor locals have averted a strike Monday along the St. Lawrence Seaway by agreeing to send the outstanding issues to binding arbitration.

"We have been meeting night and day the past week to reach a deal, and came to the conclusion that arbitration was the best way to resolve remaining issues," Unifor national representative Joel Fournier said.

Details of the issues sent to arbitration and the complete contract will be revealed with the decision of the arbitrator. Both sides expect to meet with the arbitrator as soon as possible to resolve this matter.

The 460 members of Unifor along the St. Lawrence Seaway from Niagara to Montreal are in Locals 4212 and 4211 in Niagara and Cornwall, Locals 4319 and 4320 in Montreal and Local 4323 in Iroquois, Ontario.

Unifor had set a strike or lockout deadline for Oct. 31 at 12:15 p.m., but extended the deadline to 5 p.m. Monday while negotiations were continuing.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.


The following is the text of a news release from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.:

(CORNWALL, Ontario) (Oct. 31) — UNIFOR has rescinded the 72-hour notice of intent to strike that it initially issued on Tuesday, Oct. 28, as negotiations forge ahead between the union and The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC).

Consequently, the SLSMC is postponing the final steps of its pre-announced contingency plan, which is designed to bring about a safe and orderly shutdown of the system. At present, ships are continuing to navigate on the seaway.

However, given that UNIFOR issued a new notice at 9:40 p.m. Oct. 30, enabling its members to commence strike action on Monday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m., the SLSMC is prepared to proceed with the final stages of its contingency plan, should the need arise.

The following is the text of a news release from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.:

(CORNWALL, Ontario) (Oct. 28) — The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) was served with a 72-hour notice to strike by UNIFOR on Oct. 28. The union intends to begin strike action as of 12:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31. 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.

By Professional Mariner Staff