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Jets taxi at Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Enfield, N.S.ANDREW VAUGHAN/The Canadian Press

Airport security screeners from across the Atlantic provinces have voted to strike.

Lawrence McKay, area co-ordinator of the United Steelworkers Union, said about 800 members voted almost unanimously to strike on Friday.

Mr. McKay said talks with Securitas Transport Aviation Security Ltd. broke down late last month.

He said if a deal isn't worked out, passengers at 17 Atlantic Canadian airports would be grounded.

"The airports would be shut down," said Mr. McKay from Dieppe, N.B., on Saturday. "They don't have anybody else trained to do those jobs, and the jobs have to be done."

But Mr. McKay added that an essential-services deal will be negotiated next week with the company.

"Although this industry has never been deemed essential, I think everybody realizes it will be," said Mr. McKay.

The union has a collective agreement that expires at the end of the month.

If no deal is reached, the workers will be eligible to go on strike Nov. 1.

Screeners at airports operate the X-ray machines and scan passengers, Mr. McKay said.