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Strike Ends, Restoring Vital Shipping Route in the Great Lakes

by Anna

After a week-long strike that disrupted a major shipping route, a deal was reached on Sunday, ending the strike and allowing ships to resume their journeys along the Great Lakes. Approximately 360 workers in Ontario and Quebec, represented by Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, had walked out on October 22 due to a wage dispute with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

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Ships on the St. Lawrence Seaway will start moving again once the employees return to work at 7 a.m. on Monday, as confirmed by the Seaway Management. CEO Terence Bowles expressed his satisfaction with the agreement, stating that it was fair to the workers and would ensure a strong and stable future for the Seaway.

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Unifor has announced that a vote to ratify the deal will be organized in the coming days. Details of the tentative agreement will be shared with members first, with public disclosure to follow upon ratification.

The strike had brought to a standstill 13 locks on the seaway between Lake Erie and Montreal, resulting in ships being stranded in the Great Lakes and others unable to enter. This seaway, part of an extensive system that spans over 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the western tip of Lake Superior, carried over $12 billion in cargo last year, accommodating various types of ships, including oceangoing “salties” and “lakers” that navigate within the lakes.

Notably, this strike marked the first time since 1968 that labor action had shut down this critical shipping route. The Chamber of Marine Commerce estimated that the strike, occurring during one of the busiest periods of the year for the seaway, led to the loss of up to $100 million per day in economic activity across Canada and the United States. Chamber President Bruce Burrows expressed relief that the Seaway could now resume its essential role in global commerce.

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