Crisis Alert: The Next Border Flashpoint Isn’t Where You Think

Union threats across Canada could mean big repercussions for U.S. citizens. 

Borderline Chaos

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Canadian border workers have just voted in favor of strike action, igniting fears of disruptions at the borders. 

Union Votes Overwhelmingly in Favor of Strike Action

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The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) – the border workers union – announced Friday morning that a massive 96% of its members, more than 9000 workers, turned out in support of the idea, paving the way for a possible strike during the busy summer travel season.

Summer of Discontent

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A strike could begin as early as June, right at the height of the travel season between the U.S. and Canada. While this would impact tourism, it will also have a huge effect on cross-border trade between the two countries. 

Rail-Roadblock Ahead

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To add to the worries, there’s the looming threat of a July national rail strike on Canada’s two main railroads, Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Kansas City, where railway workers are threatening to walk out over scheduling and work conditions.

Last-Ditch Talks

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Mediation sessions are slated to start on June 3, and the government is holding on to a glimmer of hope that a last-minute agreement might be reached. 

Essential Workers

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Despite the potential strike, most border workers are classified as essential, meaning basic services will continue, albeit at a reduced capacity.

Border Workers Seek Change

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The PSAC represents numerous border officers, inland enforcement, intelligence and trade officers, investigators, and other staff who are currently stationed at airports, land crossings, marine ports, and commercial entry points.

Union Demands Shake Government

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These workers chose to agree to a strike mandate as they have been without an updated collective agreement for two years, and current negotiations have allegedly hit a stalemate, according to the union.

Past Strikes Cast Shadow

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Border workers last chose to strike in 2021, which the PSAC claims “nearly brought commercial cross-border traffic to a standstill, causing major delays at airports and borders across the country.” 

Labor Limbo

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This strike saw semi-trucks and passenger vehicles trapped in hours-long waits at Canadian entry points, and only ended only after a major 36-hour negotiation, which resulted in a deal between the union, the CBSA, and the government.

Border Breakdown

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Despite 90% of the workforce being classed as essential and forced to carry on working, strikers took part in a “work-to-rule” campaign, which involves doing the absolute bare minimum and following every rule down to the tiniest detail. 

Strike Threatens Supply Chain

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In 2021, it triggered an immediate decline in productivity, long delays to shipment processing, and delays for travelers trying to cross the land, air, and sea borders into and out of Canada. Any strike action this summer would be similar.

Workers Seek Retirement Equality

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The union is demanding the government increase workers’ wages in line with other divisions of law enforcement in Canada, along with an “equitable retirement regime.” 

Negotiation Nation

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Pierre St-Jacques, spokesperson for the Customs and Immigration Union – part of PSAC – explained to the media, “When you look at the RCMP, after 25 years, they have the option to retire. CBSA does not have that. These are difficult jobs. People need to maintain their training. As people get older, sometimes this gets more difficult.”

Union Warns of Impending Strike

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The union is also pushing for online and remote work options and has accused the government of “demanding concessions” and being “not prepared” to negotiate. PSAC National President Chris Aylward warned in a news release, “Unless they want a repeat of 2021, Treasury Board and CBSA must be prepared to come to the table. The window to avert a strike is closing quickly.”

Government Responds to Union Demands

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The federal government was quick to respond, stating, “If the union is ready to negotiate in good faith, we can do the same.” It labeled the potential strike as “unnecessary” and committed to “do everything possible to reach a responsible and competitive agreement.” 

Trudeau’s Tightrope

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in during a Friday news conference, acknowledging the crucial role of CBSA workers. “We recognize the hard work that they do every day, keeping Canada safe at our borders,” he said. “We also know that the best labor agreements happen at the bargaining table, and that’s exactly where the ministers are focused.”

Trade Tension

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If the strikes do go ahead experts are worried about the potential economic repercussions for American and Canadian citizens. 

Costly Crossings

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Pascal Chan, director of transportation at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, explained, “This further jeopardizes predictability for businesses while escalating uncertainty for Canadian families who are contending with an increased cost of living.”

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The postCrisis Alert: The Next Border Flashpoint Isn’t Where You Think first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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