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Possible rail strike leads to Washington meeting with railroad union officials

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

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 speak 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 governments in decades.

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

Read also: Teamster could stir a union strike against UPS

Possible strike

More than 60,000 trade unionists working for the railways are called to go on strike after midnight this Friday.

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 put a stop to the freight rail system.

What does it mean?

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

Over 30% of the country’s freight transport is carried 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.

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

Read also: President Joe Biden delivers a powerful speech that sparks backlash from extremist Republicans last week

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 essential supply chains functioning.

President Joe Biden personally called out unions and railroads when he visited Boston earlier this week to try to prevent a strike.

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 railroad 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.


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

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