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HomeEconomyA rail strike may occur right before the holidays.

A rail strike may occur right before the holidays.

A tentative labor agreement negotiated by the Biden administration was narrowly rejected yesterday by the country’s largest train union, raising the possibility of a crippling rail strike just before the winter holidays. Without a new agreement or preventative action from Congress, a strike could begin as early as December 5.

According to the Association of American Railroads, a rail strike would cost the US economy $2 billion daily. Moreover, a shipping halt of such size might have repercussions that include worldwide food shortages and more: The American Chemistry Council estimates that each week’s chemical exports would be affected to the tune of $2.8 billion.

What do the employees desire? According to union officials, the contract was rejected because management did not make any concessions regarding what employees believed to be unfair attendance policies and ongoing understaffing issues since the pandemic. The contract offered the largest pay increase in forty years—a 24% increase by 2024.

According to one federal agency, the number of employees at freight carriers is 30% lower now than it was six years ago.
The contract needs to be approved by 12 unions, and yesterday the SMART Transportation Division union voted against it, joining several other smaller unions. Although BLET, the second-largest railroad employees union, narrowly approved the contract, it vowed to respect the picket line.

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