The Railway Strike Has Been Averted

Sept. 15, 2022
The impacts would have been felt throughout road and bridge construction industry

The looming railway strike has been averted. Announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday morning, a tentative deal has been reached between freight rail companies railroads and unions representing tens of thousands of workers. The strike would have had a devastating outcome for the U.S. economy as well as the road and bridge construction industry.

Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh brokered the deal after all-night talks, President Biden said.

With the Friday deadline looming, representatives from both sides negotiated for 20 hours at the Labor Department beginning on Wednesday. If they hadn’t hammered out a deal, rail lines across the country could have shut down, preventing equipment and building materials for road and bridge construction projects from reaching jobsites.

The tentative agreement that will now go to union members for a vote after a post-ratification cooling off period of several weeks.

“These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” said President Biden. “The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”

If this strike occurred, it would have been a crippling blow to the U.S. economy. While our economy is already dealing with supply chain issues, approximately 30% of the nation's freight moves by rail. According to CNN, some of the problems would have been:

  • Gasoline: Without freight railroads, oil refineries would have trouble producing their current volumes of gasoline, which could send gas prices higher, ending a string of three months of falling prices at the pump.
  • Food: It could disrupt the nation’s food supplies, preventing recently harvested crops to move to food processors and disrupting the supply of fertilizer needed for upcoming plantings.
  • Consumer goods: According to the National Retail Federation, Any rail strike could have long-lasting negative effects on the import of goods for the holiday shopping season, causing shortages and higher prices.
  • Cars and trucks: Car prices have already hit record prices this year due to the limited supply of new vehicles caused by a shortage of computer chips and other parts. A rail strike would further choke supplies, cutting off the delivery of auto parts to auto assembly plants, which could force temporary shutdowns at some plants. It would also disrupt the flow of completed new cars and trucks, 75% of which move by rail.

Patrick Anderson, of Anderson Economic Group, a group that does economic impact estimates for work stoppages, said that the full economic impact would not have been immediate, however, it would have cost the economy tens of millions of dollars a day in the beginning.

The strike would also have disrupted passenger traffic as well as freight rail lines. Amtrak and many commuter railroads operate on tracks owned by the freight railroads. Amtrak had already canceled a number of its long-distance trains this week and said the rest of its long-distance trains would stop Thursday ahead of the strike deadline.

Following the tentative agreement, Amtrak said it was “working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures.”

The five-year deal, retroactive to 2020, includes the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses that a Presidential Emergency Board recommended this summer. But railroads also agreed to ease their strict attendance policies to address some of the unions’ concerns about working conditions.

Railroad workers will now be able to take unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments without being penalized under railroad attendance rules. Previously, workers would lose points under the attendance systems that the BNSF and Union Pacific railways had adopted, and they could be disciplined if they lost all their points.

The unions that represent the conductors and engineers who drive the trains had pressed hard for changes in the attendance rules, and they said this deal sets a precedent that they will be able to negotiate over those kinds of rules in the future. But workers will still have to vote whether those changes are enough to approve the deal.


Source: CNN

Sponsored Recommendations

The Science Behind Sustainable Concrete Sealing Solutions

Extend the lifespan and durability of any concrete. PoreShield is a USDA BioPreferred product and is approved for residential, commercial, and industrial use. It works great above...

Proven Concrete Protection That’s Safe & Sustainable

Real-life DOT field tests and university researchers have found that PoreShieldTM lasts for 10+ years and extends the life of concrete.

Revolutionizing Concrete Protection - A Sustainable Solution for Lasting Durability

The concrete at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center is subject to several potential sources of damage including livestock biowaste, food/beverage waste, and freeze/thaw...

The Future of Concrete Preservation

PoreShield is a cost-effective, nontoxic alternative to traditional concrete sealers. It works differently, absorbing deep into the concrete pores to block damage from salt ions...