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Cross-border workers in Windsor concerned over potential border strike



While there were no delays at Windsor’s international land border crossings Monday, that might not be the case later this week.

More than 9,000 Public Service Alliance of Canada members who work for the Canadian Border Services Agency have secured a strike mandate.

They are fighting for better pay, pension, flexible telework and remote options, as well as the filling of thousands of vacant jobs.

Mediation took place Monday. The union secures a legal strike position as early as Thursday.

The last time a strike like this happened was August of 2021.

Pharmacist Manpreet Saini, who lives in Windsor but works in Detroit, remembers it all too well.

“There was long traffic…a couple of miles into Detroit. It was that bad. The tunnel and the bridge were the same. It was havoc,” said Saini.

He estimates it took him around three hours to get back home, due to extensive wait times during the strike three years ago.

That’s not to say a PSAC strike would result in land borders shutting down.

In fact, frontline border services officers are deemed essential, which means they can not stop working during a strike. However, they can still work to rule.

That means they are permitted to do their job exactly as required.

“If you…start to ask the questions you’re entitled to ask and start slowing down those trucks going through and checking the manifest of all the goods on board, you have a huge impact on those goods crossing the border every day,” said Ian Lee, an associate professor at Carleton University’s school of business.

As for Saini, he’s considering alternate accommodations to ensure he can cross the border and make it to work on time Thursday morning.

“I might have to take a hotel or something,” he said.

Marta Leardi-Anderson, executive director for the University of Windsor’s Cross Border Institute, said she is hopeful that all sides, including the Canadian government, are working hard to reach a resolution and avoid a strike.

“I think everybody involved wants things to work out,” she said. “I honestly do think that people want to resolve the issues. I think everybody wants the border to work well.”

Meanwhile, a cross-border worker who CTV News spoke with immediately as he entered Canada from the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel said his concern about the possibility of a strike is rising.

“Big time. [I cross] every day,” he said.

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