BUFFALO, N.Y. — The labor disagreement that caused traffic headaches up and down the U.S.-Canada border in Western New York on Friday has been resolved.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada as well as the Customs and Immigration Union said they reached an agreement Friday night with Canada Border Services.
A work-to-rule action had gone into effect Friday morning by border agents in Canada who are fighting for a new contract. The result was hours-long delays for traffic going into Canada on the Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge, and the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge.
Traffic was backed up for miles on I-190 north near the Niagara street exit Friday.
City of Buffalo Department of Public Works Commissioner Michael Finn told 2 On Your Side conversations were underway to mitigate traffic if the slowdown continued. Hours later, the problem worked itself out.
“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,” Chris Aylward, PSAC national president, said in a statement Friday night, announcing the news.
“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.”
The work-to-rule move came days ahead of when many people in Western New York were planning to cross over to Canada when its side of the border opens to fully vaccinated Americans. That begins on Monday.
The terms include:
- a four-year agreement from 2018-2021 with an average annual increase of over 2% per year;
- more 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;
- and other leave and allowance improvements.