Just weeks after the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO Executive Board called for a second Poe-sized lock to be constructed within the Soo Locks system between Lake Superior and the other four Great Lakes came a federal study showing the possible economic calamity that could occur should the present Poe Lock be closed for as much as six months.
Issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis, the report (entitled “The Perils of Efficiency: An Analysis of an Unexpected Closed of the Poe Lock and its Impact”) stated such an event could lead the nation into a recession more severe than the one the nation’s suffered between 2008 and 2009.
The report noted nearly 11 million people could lose their jobs not just along the Lakes, but nationwide, with more job losses spreading into Canada. It projected three quarters of the U.S. steel production would cease within two to six weeks of a Poe Lock closing, which would affect domestic manufacturing for automobiles, appliances, heavy equipment and railcars. Jobs losses could be felt as far from the Lakes as Texas and California.
The report reinforced data presented by the MTD-affiliated Machinists during the executive board meeting on February 18 that an emergency repair to the smaller MacArthur Lock that closed it for 20 days last summer caused delays that impacted manufacturing.
In making the case for a second lock to handle the largest vessels that sail on the Lakes, Bryan Bryant, who serves as the chief of staff for the Machinists’ eastern territory, pointed out to the executive board that efforts have been underway for years to construct a second Poe-sized lock. He spoke after the board watched a video featuring MTD Executive Board Member Lynn Tucker of the IAM vividly showing the need for such an infrastructure project. In addition, Saint Lawrence Seaway Corporation Administrator Betty Sutton reinforced the board’s action by adding her voice to the call for the construction.
A bipartisan effort of Great Lakes’ legislators has started working in Congress to launch a study for a second Poe-sized lock. The current Poe Lock was enlarged in 1968 to handle the 1,000-footers traversing the Lakes. The last time Congress authorized construction for a new lock was 2007, but flawed study the following year said it was not necessary as cargo could be moved by other means. Follow up showed that was not the case.
MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan joined Tucker, Bryant and other members of the Seaway Task Force to tour and witness operations at the Soo Locks last September.