Canadian union, government reach deal ending dispute causing major traffic delays

Regional

CANADA (WIVB) — The union representing Canadian customs officers and the Canadian government has reached a deal to end a labor dispute and causing major traffic delays in Buffalo.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, Customs and Immigration Union and Canada Border Services Agency were locked in conflict over their contract. The union said the government has made their workplace “toxic,” without protections and benefits they feel they deserve.

Union officials say the agreement will ensure smooth traffic flow as the Canadian border reopens to vaccinated Americans on Monday.

This tentative agreement between the labor union and the Canadian government ends a work-to-rule strike action that began Friday.

In Western New York this caused big traffic delays for those trying to cross the border into Canada at the Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Queenston-Lewiston Bridge. The delays backed up traffic three to four hours at times for those trying to enter Canada and the roads near the crossing.

Negotiations were settled 16 hours after the 6 a.m. strike deadline had passed.

Here’s a look at what the agreement includes:

  • A four-year agreement from 2018-2021 with an average annual increase of over 2% per year.
  • Better protections against excessive discipline in the workplace.
  • The creation of a National Joint Committee to tackle workplace culture problems at CBSA.
  • A paid meal allowance for uniformed members, similar to what most Canadian law enforcement agencies provide.
  • A commitment letter to advance the work toward the introduction of early retirement benefits for CBSA employees.
  • A better grievance-handling process.
  • Domestic violence leave.
  • Other leave and allowance improvements.

PSAC union president says they are relieved a prolonged dispute was avoided.

“We are relieved that CBSA and the government finally stepped up to address the most important issues for our members to avoid a prolonged labour dispute,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president. “The agreement is a testament to the incredible hard work and dedication of our bargaining team who worked through the night to reach a deal.” 

“We also couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support of our members, who put intense pressure on the government at every airport and border crossing across the country today.” 

 PSAC-CIU and CBSA negotiations began in January 2019 and stalled in December 2020. The conflict came to a head Tuesday when the union issued an official strike notice.  

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