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St. Lawrence Seaway strike impacts local shipping industry

A St. Lawrence Seaway freighter squeezes through the channel in the Thousand Islands.
David Sommerstein
A St. Lawrence Seaway freighter squeezes through the channel in the Thousand Islands

The St. Lawrence Seaway strike is leaving some central New Yorkers without work.

After about 360 unionized workers in Ontario and Quebec walked out last week over a wage dispute with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., shipping along the Great Lakes has effectively stopped. Thirteen locks between Lake Erie and Montreal are shut down leaving ships in the Great Lakes and new ones unable to enter.

William Scriber, CEO and executive director of The Port of Oswego Authority, said the strike is crippling the central New York and regional economy.

“The port generates over a half a billion dollars in economic activity for Upstate and central New York through our operations,” Scriber said. “That means each day that the seaway is closed, we talk about $1.8 million in lost economic activity.”

The Port of Oswego is the state's only port on Lake Ontario and the first deep water port on the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway. While the port is not taking sides in the strike because the workers are Canadian, Scriber said they hope for a quick resolution.

“We have said and we will continue to say, we want a negotiated settlement that both sides agree to, but this strike has to end quickly,” Scriber said.

He said he wants to get workers back to the port.

“I have workers who want to go back to work and I have things, we have grain ships we want to schedule,” Scriber said. “Basically, I want to put people back to work.”

This is the first strike to shut down this shipping system since 1968.

Abigail is a temporary WRVO News Reporter/Producer working on regional and digital news stories. She graduated from SUNY Oswego in 2022 where she studied English and Public Relations. Abigail enjoys reading, writing, exploring CNY and spending time with family and friends. Abigail first joined the WRVO team as a student reporter in June 2022.