Possible Rail Strike Looms

November 23, 2022

News – Sheridan Media

American consumers and nearly every industry will be affected if freight trains grind to a halt next month.

One of the biggest rail unions rejected its deal this past Monday (November 21st), joining three others that have failed to approve contracts over concerns about demanding schedules and the lack of paid sick time. 

That raises the risk of a strike, which could start as soon as Dec. 9th.

It wouldn’t take long for the effects of a rail strike to trickle through the economy. 

Many businesses only have a few days’ worth of raw materials and space for finished goods. 

Makers of food, fuel, cars and chemicals would all feel the squeeze, as would their customers.

That’s not to mention the commuters who would be left stranded because many passenger railroads use tracks owned by the freight railroads.

The stakes are so high for the economy that Congress is expected to intervene and impose contract terms on railroad workers. 

The last time U.S. railroads went on strike was in 1992. 

That strike lasted two days before Congress intervened. 

An extended rail shutdown has not happened for a century, partly because a law passed in 1926 that governs rail negotiations made it much harder for workers to strike.

Railroads haul about 40% of the nation’s freight each year. 

The railroads estimated that a rail strike would cost the economy $2 billion a day in a report issued earlier this fall. 

Another recent report put together by a chemical industry trade group projected that if a strike drags on for a month some 700,000 jobs would be lost as manufacturers who rely on railroads shut down, prices of nearly everything increase even more and the economy is potentially thrust into a recession.

And although some businesses would try to shift shipments over to trucks, there aren’t nearly enough of them available. 

The Association of American Railroads trade group estimated that 467,000 additional trucks a day would be needed to handle everything.

Last modified: November 23, 2022

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