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Shipping from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic could be paralyzed by a strike at the end of June unless shipowners and their crews can reach a deal on a new collective agreement.

Negotiations broke off May 31, the same day the last agreement expired, and Douglas McLaren, an official of the Seafarers' International Union, said the 2,500 workers he represents are "chomping at the bit" for a strike.

Armed with a 99 percent strike vote, the sailors would be in a legal position to strike seven days after the Canadian federal labor minister makes a decision based on the report of a conciliation officer.

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