This article is taken from the October 26, 2023 USDA Grain Transportation Report.

On Sunday (October 22) at midnight, a strike by Canadian Seaway workers shut down the St. Lawrence Seaway System (Seaway). The strike comes as the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and UNIFOR, the union representing Canadian Seaway workers, failed to reach an agreement on wages. Talks are set to resume Friday (October 27).

Although the strike does not include American Seaway workers, the Seaway’s two American locks are also closed to traffic because the locks operate as one system. According to SLSMC, no vessels are waiting to exit the system, but the closures will affect over 100 vessels outside the system. The Seaway is a binational system made up of 15 locks (13 are operated in Canada; 2 in the United States) that connect the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

According to SLSMC, 1.3 million metric tons of U.S. grain transited the Seaway in 2022 (about 1% of total U.S. grain exports). In terms of volume, more grain is exported out of the Duluth-Superior harbor than any other commodity. Several ships that are scheduled to pick up grain for export from Duluth this fall will be unable to do so unless the strike ends.