Rail strike brews, leaders to meet in Washington to prevent it from happening

Rail union leaders to travel to Washington for meeting

Image source: Financial Times

Railroad and union officials said they would travel to Washington on Wednesday for a meeting aimed at mitigating a potential rail freight strike.

They will meet Labor Secretary Marty Wash as the Biden administration tries to avoid a blow to the economy.

The news

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division are the two major unions in conflict with the railroads.

Both unions should send their union leaders to meet and talk with Walsh.

The meeting comes days before a federally mandated cooling-off period, after which a strike could begin.

A railroad strike is a major test for President Joe Bien and the White House, which has one of the most union-friendly administrations in decades.

The government is trying to avoid potential shocks to the economy, especially with the upcoming midterm elections.

Possible strike

More than 60,000 railway trade unionists were called on Friday after midnight to go on strike.

Participating members include engineers and conductors, who make up the two-person crews for each train.

Another 45,000 workers belong to unions that have tentative agreements with the railways.

However, a strike by engineers and drivers could end the rail freight system.

What does it mean?

The closure would have huge implications for the entire supply chain and would affect the US passenger rail system.

More than 30% of freight transport in the country is carried out by rail; gas, food, consumer goods and vehicles could increase in price or become scarcer in the event of a shutdown.

Amtrak also feels huge implications for its service because of the way it travels on tracks owned by freight rail companies.

Service on major long-haul routes across the United States has already been suspended due to a possible strike.

Officials respond

The shutdown has left officials struggling and the White House has contingency plans with job interviews at an impasse.

Federal agencies are working on the options available to keep major supply chains operating.

President Joe Biden personally called on unions and the railroads to try to thwart a strike during his visit to Boston earlier this week.

Biden continues to receive updates on high-stakes deals.

A White House official said the Biden administration is working with truckers, carriers and airlines to determine how other modes of transportation can move goods in the event of rail disruptions.

One of the main concerns is how they can transport hazardous materials.

However, an official revealed that there were daily meetings between the departments of agriculture, defense, federal emergency management, health and human services and transportation.

Reference:

Railroad and union officials summoned to Washington for high-stakes day of talks

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