Business groups urge Congress to block potential rail strike




  • In US
  • 2022-11-28 17:58:16Z
  • By Associated Press
 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Business groups are increasing the pressure on lawmakers to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month's deadline in the stalled contract talks.

A coalition of more than 400 business groups sent a letter to Congressional leaders Monday urging them to step into the stalled talks because of fears about the devastating potential impact of a strike that could force many businesses to shut down if they can't get the rail deliveries they need. Commuter railroads and Amtrak would also be affected in a strike because many of them use tracks owned by the freight railroads.

The business groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and National Retail Federation said even a short-term strike would have a tremendous impact and the economic pain would start to be felt even before the Dec. 9 strike deadline because the railroads would stop hauling hazardous chemicals, fertilizers and perishable goods up to a week beforehand to keep those products from being stranded somewhere along the tracks.

"A potential rail strike only adds to the headwinds facing the U.S. economy," the businesses wrote. "A rail stoppage would immediately lead to supply shortages and higher prices. The cessation of Amtrak and commuter rail services would disrupt up to 7 million travelers a day. Many businesses would see their sales disrupted right in the middle of the critical holiday shopping season."

A similar group of businesses sent another letter to President Joe Biden last month urging him to play a more active role in resolving the contract dispute.

Congressional leaders and the White House have said they are monitoring the contract talks closely but haven't indicated when they might act or what they will do. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said leaders are aware of the situation with the rail negotiations and will monitor the talks in the coming days.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., said on Fox News Sunday that Congressional intervention is a last resort, but lawmakers will have to be ready to act.

"Congress will not let this strike happen. That's for sure," said Fitzpatrick who helps lead a bipartisan group of 58 lawmakers. "It would be devastating to our economy. So, we'll get to a resolution one way or another."

A White House spokeswoman has said that a rail strike would be "unacceptable."

Congress has the power to impose contract terms on the workers, but it's not clear what they might include if they do that. They could also force the negotiations to continue into the new year.

Both the unions and railroads have been lobbying Congress while contract talks continue. Four rail unions that represent more than half of the 115,000 workers in the industry have rejected the deals that President Joe Biden helped broker before the original strike deadline in September and are back at the table trying to work out new agreements. Eight other unions have approved their five-year deals with the railroads and are in the process of getting back pay for their workers for the 24% raises that are retroactive to 2020.

"It certainly could end up in Congress' lap, which is why we are headed to D.C. this week to meet with lawmakers on The Hill from both parties," said Clark Ballew, a spokesman for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division union that represents track maintenance workers. "We have instructed our members to contact their federal lawmakers in the House and Senate for several weeks now."

The unions have asked the railroads to consider adding paid sick time to what they already offered to address some of workers' quality of life concerns. But so far, the railroads, which include Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, CSX and Kansas City Southern, have refused to consider that.

The railroads want any deal to closely follow the recommendations a special board of arbitrators that Biden appointed made this summer that called for the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses but didn't resolve workers' concerns about demanding schedules that make it hard to take a day off and other working conditions.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Oil leases in New Mexico could worsen climate change, should be canceled, lawsuit argues
Oil leases in New Mexico could worsen climate change, should be canceled, lawsuit argues

In total, the sale netted $4.1 million, according to BLM data and the leases were issued by the BLM's New Mexico office on May 12, 2021.

Abolish the IRS and the Income Tax? Some Republicans Are Having Second Thoughts
Abolish the IRS and the Income Tax? Some Republicans Are Having Second Thoughts

A group of arch-conservatives in the House is pushing for a vote on a bill that would eliminate federal income taxes and the IRS, but some influential...

Former U.S. VP Pence says he takes responsibility for documents found at home
Former U.S. VP Pence says he takes responsibility for documents found at home

Pence, speaking at Florida International University in Miami, said a review was conducted of his personal records after classified documents were found at...

Mr. Musk goes to Washington to stump for Twitter and Tesla
Mr. Musk goes to Washington to stump for Twitter and Tesla

The CEO of Tesla and Twitter met with House Judiciary and Oversight Committee chairs that aim to investigate Biden and Big Tech - and the White House, which ...

Biden speaks to parents of Tyre Nichols ahead of expected video release
Biden speaks to parents of Tyre Nichols ahead of expected video release
  • US
  • 2023-01-27 21:11:20Z

President Biden on Friday spoke with the parents of Tyre Nichols ahead of the release of video footage expected to show police officers beating Nichols, a...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US