Ports of Indiana calls on Canadian government to end labor dispute blocking Great Lakes shipping
Ports of Indiana has joined Great Lakes industry and government leaders in calling on the Canadian government to take urgent action to end a labor dispute that has shut down ocean access for Great Lakes shipments.
Ports of Indiana CEO Jody Peacock sent a letter to the Canadian Ministers of Transport and Labor to urge them to take immediate measures to resolve the labor dispute as quickly as possible.
“This is an extremely unfortunate situation where a Canadian worker strike has blocked the international shipping channel that provides ocean access to Indiana and the Great Lakes states and provinces,” Peacock said. “Our customers have informed us that at least 12 ships have been delayed or diverted so far. Our port remains open to barge, rail, and lake vessel shipments, but not having access for ocean vessels is a major problem for our customers and our regional economy.”
UNIFOR, the unionized workers of Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC), went on strike Oct. 22. The action shutdown the Canadian-controlled portions of the Seaway’s locks and canals. Since the Seaway is a linear system, it has effectively closed the United States-controlled portions.
“The Canadian government owns the Seaway, and we want the government to work with both sides to help resolve this conflict,” said Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association. “People are literally losing their jobs. Companies are losing millions of dollars a day as this Seaway strike continues.”
A 2020 study conducted by Martin Associates, a leading maritime economic analysis firm, concluded that a two-week shutdown of the St. Lawrence Seaway would cause the loss of more than 19,000 jobs in the United States and Canada.
The study went on to say that a shutdown of the Seaway would cost the shared U.S./Canadian economies $50 million to $80 million USD each day, with the impact escalating should the dispute turn into a prolonged strike.\
In 2022, the waterway handled more than 36 million tons of cargo and supported more than 24,000 jobs in the U.S. and 42,000 jobs in Canada, according to a Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway economic impact analysis released by Martin Associates in July 2023.
The strike impact is especially harmful for Indiana. The same 2023 study found that Indiana’s relatively small share of Great Lakes shoreline – 43 miles in total – generates 57 percent of all U.S. Great Lakes economic output and 42 percent of the combined U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes output.
About Ports of Indiana: Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority operating three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Established in 1961, Ports of Indiana is a self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana’s economy by developing and maintaining a world-class port system, and by serving as a statewide resource for maritime issues, international trade, and multimodal logistics.