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Rail systems brace for shutdowns, #178905
09/14/2022 09:26 PM
09/14/2022 09:26 PM
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Rail systems brace for shutdowns, Amtrak cancels routes as strike threat nears
Luz Lazo -

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/c...downs-as-strike-threat-nears/ar-AA11Pzpc

Transit systems across the country were on edge Wednesday amid the threat of a freight rail worker strike, making preparations ahead of possible travel disruptions that could affect hundreds of thousands of rail customers. Amtrak said it is canceling all of its long-distance trains starting Thursday.

Some regional transit agencies said they are preparing for service stoppages as early as Thursday evening ahead of a possible 12:01 a.m. Friday shutdown. They are wrapping up plans to communicate with commuters if a strike is not averted, and some are working with other agencies to direct people to bus alternatives.

The disruptions to passenger systems that operate on freight lines would be felt across several major metropolitan areas, including Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles. The strike threat also eliminated most Amtrak service outside the Northeast Corridor, forcing travelers to find other modes of transportation or cancel plans at the last minute.

Amtrak canceled service on all of its long-distance routes beginning Thursday, most of which have a daily trip in each direction and provide cross-country connections for thousands of Americans. Between 24 and 28 daily trains will not operate while service is suspended.

“One can just hope that there is some resolution before Friday,” said Karen Finucan Clarkson, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Railway Express, which carries commuters from Northern Virginia suburbs into the nation’s capital. “We are truly hoping that we can run a service on Friday. That would be the best for the region.”

A strike would involve workers for the two private railroads that host VRE trains — CSX and Norfolk Southern — and result in the suspension of all service. Several commuter rail agencies and the vast majority of Amtrak routes operate on tracks owned by freight railroads whose workers are threatening to strike.

Passenger trains, grain shipments to be stopped, as railway strike looms

Freight railroads and unions representing their workers have been negotiating a new contract as part of a longtime dispute over pay and working conditions, but have not come to an agreement. A federally mandated “cooling-off” period ends Friday, opening the possibility of a strike or lockout.

The Biden administration has sought to resolve the labor conflict to avert the possibility of one of the most disruptive strikes in recent U.S. history. The Association of American Railroads estimates a shutdown could cost the economy more than $2 billion a day and “could idle more than 7,000 trains daily and trigger retail product shortages, widespread manufacturing shutdowns, job losses and disruptions to hundreds of thousands of passenger rail customers.”

The labor dispute began taking a hit on intercity operations early in the week. Hundreds of Amtrak passengers had to change or cancel plans as the railroad cut cross-country trains on 10 of its 14 long-distance routes before expanding the service suspension Wednesday. The carrier said the changes on those multiday trips, ahead of a possible strike, were necessary to avoid passenger disruptions during a route.

The D.C.-to-Boston corridor, the nation’s busiest, would be mostly unaffected by a strike because Amtrak owns the tracks. But Amtrak said more cancellations are likely, including on state-funded, short-haul service that runs on freight lines. Amtrak operates most of its 21,000 route-miles on tracks owned, maintained and dispatched by freight railroads.

Major regional train systems Wednesday continued to encourage passengers to plan for alternate travel later this week.

Chicago’s Metra service said customers could see disruptions starting Thursday night on lines that run on freight tracks. The agency said BNSF Railway and Union Pacific are planning to begin curtailing service during the Thursday evening rush in preparation for a work stoppage. Four lines that have service contracted through freight rails would be affected.
Amtrak cancellations, passenger frustrations grow amid strike threat

Metrolink, a network of seven lines serving Los Angeles and other Southern California communities, has been warning customers since last week of the potential for disruptions, saying Wednesday that some disruptions will likely begin Thursday night. Five of the system’s seven lines use tracks owned by freight railroads, meaning as many as 70 percent of customers could be affected.

“We are coordinating with our rail partners to provide as much alternative service as possible, but there may be complete service cancellations on some lines,” the agency said in a service update.

The Maryland Department of Transportation continued to issue alerts Wednesday to passengers on the potential of an “immediate suspension” of all service on two of its three MARC commuter lines serving the District — one to Baltimore and another to Martinsburg, W.Va. State transportation officials said MARC is providing passengers a list of bus and other transit alternatives.

“MARC Train is prepared to run regular scheduled service on the Camden and Brunswick lines should CSX not experience a labor strike by their unions,” said Veronica Battisti, a spokeswoman with the Maryland Transit Administration.

In Virginia, the suspension of VRE service is likely to affect as many as 10,000 daily commuters. The railroad, which until recently was carrying about 5,200 passengers — down about 70 percent from pre-pandemic levels — saw a spike in ridership after Labor Day as some Metro commuters transition to the system amid a weeks-long shutdown of several Metro stations south of Reagan National Airport.

“If there is a rail strike, it means for those Blue and Yellow line riders as well as VRE riders, there will be no rail service as an option into the District,” Clarkson said.
Everything you need to know about the looming railroad strike

VRE is preparing announcements it will run at its stations Friday if the system is forced to shut down. The agency is also coordinating with commuter and local bus systems in Northern Virginia that could be used as alternatives. As of Wednesday afternoon, officials said, the prospects for a strike were still unclear and the hopes were for no effects come Friday.

“On Thursday afternoon, we will have to make a decision,” Clarkson said. “If it goes down to the wire, then it may be the wee hours of [Friday] morning before we can get something out. … Then we will send out alerts.”

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), an advocate for rail infrastructure, called the unions’ demands “reasonable” and urged railroads to work toward an agreement that avoids a strike and significant effects on commerce and transportation.

“Given the fact that Amtrak has already preemptively canceled a number of its long-distance trains in anticipation of a strike, it doesn’t take much imagination to predict the mess a strike would cause,” he said.


"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861
Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178907
09/14/2022 09:29 PM
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From carmakers to refiners, industries brace for rail strike

By The Associated Press


Car buyers might not get the vehicle they want on time, commuter rail lines could see service disrupted, and shipments from everything from oil to livestock feed could be snarled.

Those are just a few of the wide-ranging impacts a walkout by U.S. rail workers would have on the country’s industries and economy. A strike could happen if the railroads and unions can’t settle their differences before an early Friday walkout deadline.

Here’s how some industries are gauging the potential impacts and getting ready for the possible work stoppage.

___

AUTO INDUSTRY

Nearly all new vehicles that travel more than a couple hundred miles from the factory to their destination are shipped by rail because it’s more efficient, said Michael Robinet, an executive director for S&P Global Mobility. So it’s almost a certainty that new vehicles coming to the U.S. from Mexico or other countries will be delayed, he said.

“It’s not like there’s extra truck capacity to take all the vehicles that the railroads can’t carry,” Robinet said.

Automakers might be hampered in building vehicles, too, because some larger parts and raw materials are transported by rail. But Robinet said automakers will go to great lengths to get the parts to keep their factories running as much as possible.

Mike Austin, senior mobility analyst for Guidehouse Research, said the strike could make new vehicles even more scarce, driving prices up beyond current record levels. That could raise inflation “as other goods aren’t moving through the rails.”

Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, said Wednesday at the Detroit auto show that his company will wind up apologizing to customers because their orders may not arrive on time.

___

COMMUTING

Metra commuter rail service, which operates in the Chicago area, said Wednesday that it would suspend operations on four of its 11 lines on Friday if a work stoppage occurs. Some disruption on those lines would begin after rush hour Thursday night. In Minnesota, the operators of a commuter rail line that carries workers along a densely populated corridor from Minneapolis to northwestern suburbs and towns warned that service could be suspended as early as Friday.

In the Puget Sound region of Washington state, any strike would cancel the rail service until employees return to work, said David Jackson, a spokesman for the regional transit agency Sound Transit. Some Caltrain riders in the San Francisco Bay Area could be impacted by a rail strike, officials said.

The Maryland Transit Administration warned this week that a strike would mean the immediate suspension of service on two of its three MARC commuter rail lines.

Amtrak, meanwhile, said that starting Thursday, all its long-distance trains are canceled to avoid possible passenger disruptions while en route.

___

ENERGY

A strike could have a significant impact on the energy industry, and could hurt consumers who would likely end up paying more for gasoline, electricity and natural gas. Refineries might have to halt production if they can’t get the deliveries they need, or if they don’t have access to rail to ship gasoline.

No one wants to risk leaving flammable chemicals stranded on the railroad tracks if a strike occurs. That’s why railroads began curtailing shipments of hazardous materials on Monday to protect that dangerous cargo.

Roughly 300,000 barrels of crude oil move by rail each day, which could supply about two mid-size refineries, according to AFPM. And about 5 million barrels of propane, representing a third of U.S. consumption, are moved by rail monthly, the group said.

Roughly 70% of ethanol produced in the U.S. is shipped by rail, and ethanol accounts for about a tenth of U.S. gasoline volume, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights. Nearly 75% of the coal moved to electric utilities in the first half of 2022 was moved by rail, the group said.

___

AGRICULTURE

Livestock producers could see problems almost immediately if shipments of feed abruptly ended, according to the National Grain and Feed Association.

Meat and poultry groups noted the reliance on rail for shipments of feed and called for a quick resolution of the rail dispute. Every week, the nation’s chicken industry receives about 27 million bushels of corn and 11 million bushels of soybean meal to feed chickens, said Tom Super, senior vice president of the National Chicken Council.

___

RETAIL

Experts say retailers have been shipping goods earlier in the season in recent months as a way to protect themselves from potential disruptions. But this buffer will only slightly minimize the impact from a railroad strike, which is brewing during the critical holiday shipping season, said Jesse Dankert, vice president of supply chain at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a retail trade group that counts more than 200 retailers like Best Buy as its members. She noted that retailers are already feeling the impact from the uncertainty as some freight carriers are limiting services.

Dankert noted that retailers, noticing a slowdown in shipments, are now making contingency plans like turning to trucks to pick up some of the slack and making plans to use some of the excess inventory that it has in its distribution centers.

But she noted that there are not enough trucks and drivers to meet their needs. That scarcity will only drive up costs and make inflation worse, she said.

“As we have seen in the past two and half years, if there is a breakdown anywhere along the supply chain, one link falters, you see that ripple effect pretty quickly and those effects just spread from there,” Dankert said.


"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861
Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178909
09/14/2022 09:56 PM
09/14/2022 09:56 PM
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A neighbor of mine drives a train for Burlington Northern here in Tulsa. He's not wild about going on strike, but he figures it'll be a good time to visit his family in Maine. He says most of the unions have already agreed to a contract, but two unions haven't, and they won't cross a picket line, so...

Onward and upward,
airforce

Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178910
09/14/2022 10:00 PM
09/14/2022 10:00 PM
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Amtrak Canceling All Long-Distance Trains Ahead Of “Potentially Disastrous” Rail Strike
The White House is considering an emergency decree to keep key goods flowing

By ZeroHedge Wednesday, September 14, 2022

So it begins: on Wednesday afternoon, Amtrak said it will cancel all long distance trains starting Thursday, September 15 “to avoid possible passenger disruptions while enroute” as White House-led talks between freight-rail companies and unions continued in a race to avoid a rail-system shutdown Friday.

“Such an interruption could significantly impact intercity passenger rail service, as Amtrak operates almost all of our 21,000 route miles outside the Northeast Corridor on track owned, maintained, and dispatched by freight railroads,” the company said in a statement Wednesday, adding that it has already started phased adjustments which “include canceling all Long Distance trains and could be followed by impacts to most State- Supported routes”

“Adjustments are necessary to ensure trains can reach their terminals before freight railroad service interruption if a resolution in negotiations is not reached”

The good news: most travel within the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor (Boston – New York – Washington) and related branch lines to Albany, N.Y., Harrisburg, Penn,, and Springfield, Mass., would not be affected. Additionally the Acela service is not affected, and only a small number of Northeast Regional departures would be impacted.

As reported earlier, about 125,000 freight-rail workers could walk off the job if a deal isn’t reached by Friday’s deadline, with a strike potentially costing the world’s biggest economy more than $2 billion a day. The stoppage would be the largest of its kind since 1992, and it would snarl a wide range of goods transported by rail – from food to metal and auto parts – and threatens travel chaos for thousands of commuters, while sending inflation soaring even more.

The White House is considering an emergency decree to keep key goods flowing.

A Biden-appointed board last month issued a set of recommendations to resolve the dispute, including wage increases and better health coverage. But the proposal did not include terms on scheduling, attendance and other issues important to the two unions holding out for a deal, affiliates of the Teamsters Union and of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. Together, they represent about 60,000 employees.

A rail strike would be “potentially disastrous,” with “dire consequences that will cascade throughout the economy if a strike actually occurs,” Business Roundtable Chief Executive Officer Joshua Bolten told reporters. Supply-chain issues would be “geometrically magnified by the rail strike, and that’s not just the occasional Amazon box showing up two days later than it should — these are critical materials” such as chlorine to keep water clean that would be delayed, Bolten said.

In a letter to Congress, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said if all 7,000 long-distance freight trains available in the US stopped running, the country would need an extra 460,000 long-haul trucks daily to make up for the lost capacity, which isn’t possible because of equipment availability and driver shortages. Needless to say, such an outcome would would send the price of diesel to record highs and through substitution, gasoline would follow suit. The trucking industry — dealing with labor issues of its own — faces a deficit of 80,000 drivers nationwide, he wrote.

While a majority of 12 railroad unions involved in the dispute had reached or were close to achieving tentative agreements with freight carriers as of Monday, members of those unions also would refuse to work unless a deal is reached with the whole group, leaders said.

Ominously, the 4,900 members from District 19 under the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) voted against the Tentative Agreement with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC). The union members gave leadership the green light to strike if necessary. IAM District 19 said it also agreed to an extension until Sept. 29 to allow negotiations to continue.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on Wednesday led negotiations between the unions and railroads, with talks continuing through lunch without a break, a Labor Department spokesperson said.

* * *

Update (1155ET):

It’s becoming increasingly possible that a major freight rail stoppage could materialize following the news thousands of rail workers rejected labor agreements this morning.

The 4,900 members from District 19 under the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) voted against the Tentative Agreement (proposed collective bargaining agreements that have not been ratified) with the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC).

IAM District 19 released the following statement:

“The Tentative Agreement has been rejected and the strike authorization vote was approved by IAM District 19 members. Out of respect for other unions in the ratification process, an extension has been agreed to until Sept. 29, 2022 at 12 p.m. ET. This extension will allow us to continue to negotiate changes with the NCCC in the hopes of achieving an agreement our membership would ratify.

“IAM freight rail members are skilled professionals who have worked in difficult conditions through a pandemic to make sure essential products get to their destinations. We look forward to continuing that vital work with a fair contract that ensures our members and their families are treated with the respect they deserve for keeping America’s goods and resources moving through the pandemic. The IAM is grateful for the support of those working toward a solution as our members and freight rail workers seek equitable agreements.”

IAM District 19 members are locomotive machinists, track equipment specialists, and maintenance personnel.

This comes as the US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with freight railroad companies and union officials Wednesday morning to avert a strike that could result in a nationwide shutdown of the freight rail system as soon as Friday.

* * *

By John Gallagher of FreightWaves

A joint resolution by U.S. lawmakers aimed at ending the threat of a strike or lockout provides little incentive for avoiding a debilitating shutdown of the nation’s railroads, according to a former rail industry legal consultant.

Introduced in the Senate on Monday by Roger Wicker, R.-Miss., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., the legislation would adopt the recommendations issued in August by the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) that were meant to be used as the foundation for a new contract. Such action is supported by major business and shipper groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Fertilizer Institute.

But getting a divided Congress to quickly pass such settlement legislation offers little chance of resolving the dispute, according to John Brennan III, a former senior counsel for the Union Pacific Railroad.

“Congress is in the unfortunate position of resolving a potential strike on very difficult terms, and what Wicker and Burr are proposing is a cramdown,” Brennan told FreightWaves.

Brennan pointed out that when the last rail strikes occurred in the early 1990s, Congress passed settlement resolutions within 24 hours. But the partisan divide in Congress today, along with the upcoming midterm elections, could make it difficult to pass settlement legislation before midnight on Thursday, when a work stoppage would be permitted under the law.

“Expedited passage of this legislation requires unanimous consent, and one senator or congressman on either side of the aisle looking to gain political points will be able to hold this up — the possibility for theatrics is endless,” Brennan said.

Another path Congress could have chosen — simply extending the status quo for a certain period — may have offered more chance for an eventual settlement, although this also likely would have received pushback from labor-supportive Democrats, said Brennan, who is also a former chief of staff for the House of Representatives’ railroads subcommittee.

Delaying a possible strike through congressional action was also opposed by the American Trucking Associations.

“A possible strike or lockout in October or November is arguably worse than one next week — although any disruption will cost the nation billions of dollars of lost productivity,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear this past week. “Moreover, our members and every other business in America will have to maintain and update contingency plans unless the rail matter is resolved expeditiously.”

Instead, legislation requiring final-offer arbitration — also known as “baseball” arbitration because of its use in resolving major league contract salary disputes — may have offered the best path toward a fast settlement, according to Brennan.

“Decision-making power would be delegated to experienced, independent arbitrators who would choose between a best and final offer from either management or labor — a very scary proposition for both sides, and therefore an incentive to force them to the middle and settle,” Brennan said. “The legislation could help to avoid political controversy with the upcoming election looming.”

The National Railway Labor Conference, which is negotiating on behalf of railroad management, confirmed Tuesday that nine of the 12 unions involved in the contract talks have now come to a tentative agreement based on the PEB’s recommendations.

However, the two unions that together make up roughly half of the rank-and-file workers covered under the contract — the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers/Transportation Division, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen — have yet to settle with management.

* * *

With that said, the two hold-out rail worker labor unions (noted above) risk causing widespread supply chain chaos if labor agreements with rail freight companies aren’t reached by the end of the week. This could mean more than 100,000 rail workers could soon leave the job.

Railroads are set to halt shipments of some commodities, farm goods, and other critical items on Thursday as the industry braces for work stoppages that could begin as early as Friday. If strikes materialize and the nation’s freight rail system is disrupted, it could cost the economy a whopping $2 billion daily.

Norfolk Southern Corp. announced plans to halt unit train shipments of bulk commodities on Thursday. The railroad said it would stop receiving automobiles at its loading facilities Wednesday afternoon.

“We are hearing several rail carriers are tentatively planning to wind down shipments,” Max Fisher, chief economist at the National Grain and Feed Association, which represents most US grain handlers, told Bloomberg.

Reuters cited Justin Louchheim, the Senior Director of Government Affairs at The Fertilizer Institute, saying most rail freight companies stopped accepting new shipments of ammonia fertilizer and other potentially hazardous materials.

Other railroads are following suit. BNSF Railway Co. and Union Pacific Corp. representatives told Bloomberg they would curtail new shipments.

“We must take actions to prepare for the eventuality of a labor strike if the remaining unions cannot come to an agreement,” BNSF said in a statement.

Fisher said railroads halting new cargoes is a move at ensuring trains aren’t stranded if a labor strike materializes.

Other commodities are at risk, such as coal and crude product transports that could interrupt pre-winter stockpiling by utilities, triggering an increase in natural gas demand by power plant generators. Some estimates show railroads account for about a third or more of all US freight, meaning a strike would worsen supply chain snarls that could send inflation higher.

“Almost all ethanol is moved via rail and it is produced in the Midwest,” noted Debnil Chowdhury of S&P Global Commodity Insights. “There is no easy substitute for rail and the US government will have to make decisions around blend targets if ethanol movement to demand centers are constrained due to a strike.”

Besides freight, the strike prospects are about to affect passenger railroad service. An Amtrak spokesperson said seven long-distance routes starting Wednesday across major metro areas, including New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Seattle, would be halted.

The move to suspend service is one sign of the fallout from a labor dispute between unions and freight railroads that could descend into crippling shutdown of the nation’s freight rail network as early as Friday. Amtrak said it had begun phased service adjustments to prepare for a potential interruption that could “significantly impact” its service between US cities outside of the Northeastern US between Boston and Washington, DC –Bloomberg

The White House announced contingency plans on Tuesday as US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will meet with railroad and union representatives in Washington on Wednesday morning.


"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861
Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178915
09/15/2022 12:13 PM
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It looks like the strike has been averted, if only temporarily. A tentatve agreement was brokered last night and, until a ratification vote is tallied, the unions have agreed not to strike.

Onward and upward,
airforce

Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178917
09/15/2022 08:27 PM
09/15/2022 08:27 PM
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I heard that the administration’s transportation department had a team of mediators that attended a meeting back in May with the involved parties. They simply said “looks like you folks have this all worked out… just keep talking” and left.


The theory goes is that they wanted things to break down a few months later so that they could magically swoop in closer to the election to save the nation. They could have stayed and helped avoid a crisis but that would not have made headlines and would have been too far ahead of the election. Now they want to be patted on the back for “fixing” a problem that they knowingly allowed to happen. Let’s Go Brandon!


"Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerable one."
 Thomas Paine (from "Common Sense" 1776)
Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178919
09/16/2022 02:33 PM
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Huskerpatriot, that looks fairly accurate. Here's what Reason is reporting:

Quote
Freight railroads and unions representing nearly 125,000 workers reached a tentative agreement on a new labor contract that, for now, averts the possibility of an economically catastrophic strike.

The deal itself still needs to be ratified by union members before it becomes binding—and before the possibility of a strike that could have disrupted billions of dollars of daily commerce is put off for good—but both the unions and the Association of American Railroads, which represents the industry, have praised the deal. The details of the contract are not public, but the unions reportedly scored several of their top priorities, including graduated pay increases of 24 percent that will be doled out over several years and an average lump sum payment of $11,000 to all union members (a major carrot to get workers to approve the new deal). Much of the brinksmanship on display over the past week, however, had to do with a demand for paid medical leave—a demand that even the Biden administration opposed for being "too costly"—which was reportedly left out of the final deal.

That a strike was avoided is undeniably the most important thing, given the high economic stakes. But how we got to the brink of a major railroad strike is a fascinating, if convoluted, story as well—one that involves unions overplaying their hand in what they believed to be a favorable political environment, only to discover that Democratic politicians were not prepared to play ball.

This week's labor drama was a crescendo that started building back on June 14. That was the day that the National Mediation Board (NMB), a federal agency that exists solely to facilitate deals between unions and management in the railroad and airline industries, ended mediation between the railroads and the dozen unions representing their employees. The decision to cut-off mediation was an unusual one, and it set up a "ticking time bomb toward an economy-jolting national railroad shutdown," Railway Age, a trade publication, reported at the time.

It also appeared to be a politically motivated maneuver. The NMB voted 2–1 to end mediation, with both Democratic appointees in favor and the lone Republican on the board opposed.

Historically, Congress has had to step in and impose a third-party settlement when there is a breakdown in negotiations between railroads and their workers' unions when a strike looms. By cutting off mediation in June, then, the NMB ensured that a potential work stoppage and any associated congressional intervention would happen before the midterm elections in November.

"Speculation is that rail labor seeks to throw the dispute before Congress while traditionally labor-friendly Democrats still control the House and Senate," explained Railway Age contributing editor Frank Wilner. The unions seemingly confirmed that speculation a few days later with a statement in which they claimed to be "mobiliz[ing] our legislative departments" and "urging our members to begin reaching out to their" members of Congress.

In addition to having Democrats in control of Congress, the unions also likely believed they had an ally in the White House. After all, President Joe Biden scarcely seems to make a public appearance without talking up his pro-labor bona fides.

In both cases, they seem to have miscalculated. The Biden administration did indeed intervene—in August, Biden ordered the creation of an emergency board led by Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to draw up a deal for both sides to consider. That's the deal union members are now voting on, but the unions initially objected to the lack of paid medical leave in the deal.

The paid medical leave policy that the unions sought would be "an overly broad and very costly proposal," Biden's board wrote in its final report on the agreement. If adopted, it "would create 15 paid days a year that, while nominally labeled as sick leave days, would be structured to be used on demand as a means of permitting employees to better balance work-life needs and would effectively be personal days."

It was that part of the dispute that finally brought the threat of a strike to bear.

"The Presidential Emergency Board recommendation got it wrong," the heads of two of the unions involved in the dispute said in a statement on September 11. In the same statement, they issued an explicit threat to strike and called for more aggressive government action. "It's time for the federal government to tell the CEO's [sic] who are running the nation's railroads into the ground that enough is enough," they wrote.

Despite that, Congress was prepared to impose the board's agreement on both sides this week, until Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) blocked a vote on the resolution. It is, of course, impossible to know if the political calculus would have changed in the event of an actual strike. It's possible that Sanders and pro-labor Democrats would have backed down rather than be blamed for letting the strike disrupt huge swaths of the American economy.

But the Biden administration was clearly not thrilled about that prospect.
During a meeting in early September, Walsh reportedly issued a blunt message to union leaders: "Don't mess with the nation's fragile economy weeks ahead of mid-term congressional elections as neither Congress nor the Biden Administration will like it."

"Now the unions are getting a lesson in why government intervention isn't always a good thing," quipped Sean Higgins, a research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank.

It's a lesson they probably should have already learned. As Railway Age's Wilner highlighted months ago, a similar gambit during the last railroad strike in 1991 ended with Congress voting overwhelmingly against the unions' interests.

Congress may still have to get involved this time, but only if union members reject the tentative agreement. If that happens, it will be in a different political environment, because there will be a mandatory 60-day "cooling off period" before a potential strike. Any congressional action, therefore, will come after the midterms.

But it's probably best for everyone—the industry, the unions, and everyone else who could be affected by a national railroad strike—if it doesn't come to that.


Onward and upward,
airforce

Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178920
09/16/2022 04:38 PM
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Posts: 1,513
Omaha Nebraska
Any rail shutdown is a big and very bad deal. But THIS time of year is particularly the worst. With the worldwide food shortages it is beyond critical that we don’t let recently harvests grain rot in the countryside waiting for unit rail shipments to haul it to market. A unit train has 125 cars that EACH hold 30,000 bushels of grain! Around the “Cornhusker state” farms don’t have enough on site storage for their entire crop (especially since yields are up 75% in the last 20 years) small town elevators don’t either. The surplus crops are simply piled up on the ground near elevators while they pray it doesn’t rain. Some places will pile it up then cover with large tarps, not 100% effective, but better than nothing. When they get their rail cars, these piles are collected right away and rotted grain destroyed. Every days delay in rail shipment means more % is lost. With global grain shortages (drought, Russo-Ukrainian War, mysterious fires…) we can’t afford to be screwing up things further.


"Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerable one."
 Thomas Paine (from "Common Sense" 1776)
Re: Rail systems brace for shutdowns, [Re: ConSigCor] #178922
09/16/2022 11:25 PM
09/16/2022 11:25 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,240
Tyler County, TX
T
Texas Resistance Offline
Senior Member
Texas Resistance  Offline
Senior Member
T
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,240
Tyler County, TX
The Democrats want to create another crisis to steal another election like they did with the Covid mail in balot scam. If they wanted to the Feds could order the railroad unions back to work. The railroads and the unions should realze that if the grain rots then no one will be paying them to ship it.


www.TexasMilitia.Info Seek out and join a lawful Militia or form one in your area. If you wish to remain Free you will have to fight for it...because the traitors will give us no choice in the matter--William Cooper

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