The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced early Monday (October 3) that it had reached a tentative collective agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers which represents the Corporation’s 475 unionized employees.
The agreement, which was reached following bargaining which extended through the weekend, is subject to ratification by the union membership.
Details of the agreement will not be released pending ratification.
Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, indicated that the conclusion of the bargaining process would allow ships to continue transiting the waterway without interruption.
The Corporation was served with a 72-hour strike notice by the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) at noon on Friday, September 30, of its intent to begin strike action on Monday, October 3, at noon.
If the tentative agreement had not been reached and the unionized workers had proceeded with strike action, The St. Lawrence Seaway would have been closed to all traffic.
According to a SLSMC press release, a contingency plan was in place to provide for the orderly shutdown of the system in the event of the labour interruption.
Negotiations continued with a federally appointed mediator over the weekend in an effort to reach an agreement. The mediator had been working with the parties throughout the latest round of negotiations, which began on September 19.
The parties have been negotiating since May with the key issues being wages, healthcare (co-payment) and contracting.
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is a private, not-for-profit corporation, created pursuant to the Canada Marine Act, to operate and maintain the Canadian Seaway.
Since its inception in 1959, over 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued in excess of $375 billion has been transported via the waterway.
Today, over 60,000 Canadian jobs are directly or indirectly dependent upon cargo transiting the Seaway.