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Canada to welcome fully vaccinated Americans after deal to stop strike

Canada to welcome fully vaccinated Americans after deal to stop strike
A strike ended Friday after Canada Border Services Agency staff reached a tentative deal with the government. Photo courtesy of Customs and Immigrations Union.

Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Canada will start welcoming fully vaccinated U.S. visitors to the country Monday after reaching a tentative deal to stop a border agent strike.

The deal was reached less than 72 hours before Canada is set to reopen its borders to allow for discretionary travel to the country of fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and for the first time since March 2020, Duluth News Tribune and Politico reported Saturday.

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Nearly 9,000 staffers with the Canada Border Services Agency had begun to strike early Friday morning through a work-to-rule strike action where agents would ask every question in their manual at ports of entry to slow operations, according to both outlets. However, employees reached a deal with the government after a 36-hour negotiation session ending the strike, the Public Service Alliance of Canada-Customs and Immigration Union bargaining team said in a statement.

The union added that negotiations had dragged on as employees went more than three years without a contract and reached a stalemate in December.

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Under the deal, the employees will receive around a 2% per year average annual increase for 2018-2021, retroactively. They will also receive expanded parent and caregiver leave, new domestic violence leave, new protections against excessive workplace discipline, and creation of a National Joint Committee to address workplace culture problems.

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"We are relieved that CBSA and the government finally stepped up to address the most important issues for our members to avoid a prolonged labor dispute," said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president, in a statement. "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."

Mark Weber, CIU national president, added in the statement that the protections under the agreement were especially important given the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"CBSA employees have been on the front lines of the pandemic since day one protecting our borders and keeping Canadians safe," Weber said. "But they weren't receiving the support they needed from the government...Finally, after three years of negotiations, we've resolved longstanding issues that go a long way towards making CBSA a better, safer place to work for our members."

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