As soon as this Friday, a sizable railroad strike might occur, worsening supply chain constraints, igniting soaring inflation, and increasing the number of walkouts occurring under President Biden’s labor-friendly government. Despite recognizing that a rail shutdown would have a “tremendous” negative impact on the economy, the White House refused to commit to legislation to stop a strike on Tuesday.
Speaking about the two holdout unions and the main railroad firms, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated, “We are going to encourage them to stay at the bargaining table.” She termed a strike “not acceptable” and said, “They’ve come to a conclusion in the past, and that’s what we’re going to work on.”
Even a partial halt in train traffic would exacerbate the country’s economic problems, particularly the consistently high inflation that sparked a significant sell-off on Wall Street on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its worst day since June 2020 as it dropped over 1,276 points, or barely 4%.
A train shutdown, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, would result in “economic calamity.”
60,000 railroad workers could walk off the job as soon as Friday. It’s about the last thing the US economy needs. A prolonged strike could mean some empty shelves in stores, temporary closures at factories, and higher prices on various consumer goods. https://t.co/CY92Nmn9AI pic.twitter.com/BsVsHCU8Fh
— CNN (@CNN) September 13, 2022
The White House and Congress have been advised not to get involved by union leaders. They said that the only way to obtain improved working conditions was through a strike or the threat of one.
However, Maryland Democrat and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer suggested that if necessary, Congress might intervene and prevent a strike. Mr. Hoyer said on Monday on Bloomberg TV that “there is a role for Congress if, in fact, they fail to achieve an agreement.” If necessary, we can enact laws.
New York Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer sidestepped a query on Tuesday regarding whether Democrats in Congress are ready to stop a rail strike. The main line is that we’re asking both parties to cooperate and reach a compromise, he added.
About 115,000 freight train employees are in need of a solution, but negotiators for both sides have been unable to come to one despite Mr. Biden and his advisors making multiple phone calls in recent days. A debilitating strike must be averted by Thursday at midnight. During a trip to Boston on Monday, Mr. Biden chatted on the phone with each side, ostensibly to no result.
UPDATE on railroad strike: the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen rejected a tentative agreement with rail carriers.
This means 3 of 12 national railroad unions could strike on at 12:01 am on Friday—shutting down much of the country’s transportation infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/nEFzCajutA
— Lauren Kaori Gurley (@LaurenKGurley) September 13, 2022
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, tweeted: “The impending railroad strike is simply another evidence of this admin’s failure to act when it counts.” “Biden’s failings with our supply chain are piling up, and many should wonder why the self-described “most pro-union president” couldn’t handle this significant issue,” the statement reads.
Two unions that represent conductors and engineers have not yet struck a tentative agreement with the main railroad firms, but eleven of the thirteen unions that represent railroad workers have. About 60,000 railroad workers are represented by the two unions.
Time off for medical visits is the primary issue in the discussions. The railways’ sick leave regulations, according to the unions, are utilized to penalize or terminate employees. In a time when the railways can’t afford personnel shortages, the workers, according to the railroads, are misusing their sick days.
Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF, and Kansas City Southern are among the railroad corporations. On commuter train routes that use tracks controlled by the impacted firms, the strike would also halt service. There would be little delays for Amtrak, especially in the southern part of the country.
Camden and Brunswick Line service would be suspended on Maryland’s MARC commuter train, which travels on CSX lines, while the Penn Line would continue to run. The VRE, which runs on CSX and Norfolk Southern tracks, would have to be replaced with another mode of transportation for commuters in Virginia.
Amtrak stated that although certain lines south of Washington will be impacted, service would not be stopped on the congested Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston. On Tuesday, the national passenger rail service began proactively canceling long-distance operations, mostly from Chicago.
The White House stated that, in the absence of a settlement, the government is looking for other carriers to transport up to one-third of the country’s freight in the case of a strike. Officials in the government, according to Ms. Jean-Pierre, are “trying to work out with other forms of transportation how to move forward.”
The 80,000-driving driver shortfall is a problem for trucking businesses, who claim they couldn’t make up the slack. The transportation delays brought on such a strike would also harm truckers.
One of the business organizations urging the White House and Congress to step in and stop a strike if negotiations don’t produce a deal by the deadline was the trade association for retailers.
Even a brief strike or interruption would be terrible, according to Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “The detrimental impact of uncertainty is already being felt,” he added. “A lack of consumer products and raw resources will have a double-whammy effect on prices and job losses in the economy. And it should go without saying that this couldn’t have come at a worse time based on today’s inflation data. To prevent a self-inflicted economic catastrophe, policymakers must employ all available tools.
UPDATE: Railroad workers tell us they’re prepared to launch a nationwide strike next week.
“The rank and file seem to be in nearly unanimous agreement of a strike,” worker Michael Lindsey said.
Railroads have pushed workers to the brink with 24/7 on-call schedules & 0 days off. pic.twitter.com/Hiq3a8izSz
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) September 9, 2022
Consumer prices increased 0.1% from July, according to data released on Tuesday by the Labor Department, and the annual inflation rate in August was 8.3%, which is close to a four-decade high. According to analysts, a rail strike and other supply constraints would increase inflationary pressures.
Under Mr. Biden, who describes himself as labor’s strongest supporter in Washington, strikes are increasing across the country.
The Strike Tracker at Payday Report recorded 50 walkouts in July and 106 in August. The greatest private-sector nurses strike in American history took place in Minnesota this past week when 15,000 nurses at 16 hospitals went on a three-day strike.
By enforcing a 60-day cooling-off period and convening a presidential emergency board to examine the concerns and provide a settlement recommendation, Mr. Biden stopped a train strike in July. The final proposals called for a one-day increase in annual paid leave, $5,000 in incentives, and 24% rises over five years beginning in July 2020.
At 1:00 a.m., the cooling-off period will end. Friday. Under the century-old Railway Labor Act, only Congress has the power to avert a strike by enforcing the terms on both parties or extending the cooling-off period.
According to a trade group’s assessment, the economy would lose $2 billion every day if the railroads were to be shut down.
Numerous industry and trade associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are pleading with Congress to intervene and prevent a strike if the two parties are unable to come to an agreement by the set date. It said that the terms suggested by the presidential board should be imposed by Congress.
According to Suzanne Clark, president and chief executive officer of the U.S., “a nationwide rail strike would be an economic calamity – halting the flow of products, emptying shelves, shuttering workplaces and hiking prices for people and companies alike.” Business chamber.
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