A U.S. rail strike would have implications for cross-border traffic and likely resulting in an increase in trucking rates. PHOTO by Pexels.
More than 400 American business groups, such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are demanding that the U.S. Congress step in to block a looming rail strike that could cripple up to 30% of the country’s cargo shipments by weight and cost the U.S. economy up to $2 billion per day.
There was a tentative deal put together in September with the help of the Joe Biden administration between the major U.S. rail carriers and a dozen unions representing about 115,000 workers. While the deal was accepted by eight of the unions, four of the unions, including the largest one, is against it.
The two sides have until Dec. 9 to reach an agreement.
A U.S. railroad strike would, of course, have implications for cross-border traffic and impact Canadian manufacturers already coping with two years of supply chain headaches, cautions the Freight Management Association of Canada. A secondary effect would be on cross-border trucking rates, the shipper organization adds.
The White House has deemed a rail shutdown “unacceptable”, and President Biden said last week that his administration is involved in negotiations to avert a strike, although he has not directly engaged on the matter yet, according to Reuters.
There’s no limitation on how Congress could intervene, according to a report in the Freightwaves newsletter, but there are three options Congress could pursue, according to Seth Harris, senior fellow at Northeastern University’s Burns Center for Social Change. Harris has also served as Biden’s top labor adviser, and he was the acting secretary of labor and deputy secretary of labor for former President Barack Obama.
“The three likeliest options are, one, they pass a bill imposing a longer cooling-off period, two, they pass a bill ending the strike — if there is a strike — and, three, they pass a bill that ends the strike and imposes terms on the parties, basically legislating a collective bargaining agreement for the parties,” Harris told FreightWaves.