Today: Monday, 2 October 2023 year

US companies fear economic disaster if rail workers strike

US companies fear economic disaster if rail workers strike

US companies are warning of the possibility of an economic catastrophe if the railroad strike scheduled for Friday goes ahead.

Shippers of goods ranging from animal feed to electronics to fertilizers have called on the US Congress to intervene in a flaring labor dispute that could halt freight traffic on national railroads as early as this week.

US railroad unions, representing more than 115,000 employees, are negotiating with major freight carriers to improve working conditions. If they do not come to an agreement today, the next day in the United States will begin the first railroad strike since 1992. They will include employees of the country’s largest rail operators Union Pacific Corp., CSX and BNSF.
By the end of Tuesday, most of the unions negotiating had concluded preliminary agreements. But two never reached an understanding with their employers after almost three years of unsuccessful negotiations, and representatives of another refused the option he proposed. The unions threatened to go on strike even if just one of them failed to agree on new working conditions.

“The White House is working with other modes of transport, including shipping, trucking, and air travel, to see how they can intervene and ensure the movement of goods in the event of a rail shutdown,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday.

 

Congress has the power to force unions and railroads into binding arbitration.

Passenger company Amtrak announced the cancellation of the movement of all long-distance trains from Thursday due to a possible strike. A spokesman for the company said this would allow trains to reach their destination before protests began.

Amtrak is not involved in negotiations between railroads and freight companies, but many of its trains run on third-party railroads that would be closed if there was a strike.