cloudyn.png
Tuesday January 31st, 2023 7:04PM

As deadline looms, railroads say strike would cost $2B a day

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Major freight railroads, in a bid to apply pressure on unions and Congress, say a strike that could come after a key deadline passes next week would cost the economy more than $2 billion a day and disrupt deliveries of all kinds of goods and passenger traffic nationwide.

The Association of American Railroads trade group on Thursday issued a report estimating the dire consequences of a strike. Their report came a day after Labor Secretary Marty Walsh took part in talks in a bid to hammer out an agreement.

A strike or lockout won't be allowed until next Friday at the soonest under the federal law that governs railroad negotiations.

Five of the 12 unions involved that together represent some 115,000 workers have announced tentative agreements covering over 21,000 workers based on a set of recommendations that a special panel appointed by President Joe Biden made last month. But several key unions are holding out in the hope that the railroads will agree to go beyond those recommendations and address some of their concerns about working conditions.

The Presidential Emergency Board recommended a five-year deal, retroactive to 2020, that includes 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. But it wants unions to take their concerns about attendance policies, paid leave and expenses to arbitration or to negotiate separately with the railroads. Unions say their workloads have become unbearable after railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their workforces over the past six years.

The railroad trade group said a strike would idle some 7,000 freight trains a day run by CSX, Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern and other railroads and disrupt passenger operations nationwide because Amtrak and half of all commuter rail systems rely at least partly on tracks owned by the freight railroads.

The AAR also said it would be impossible for trucks to pick up the slack if railroads shut down because roughly 467,000 additional trucks a day would be needed to handle all the freight railroads deliver, and there is already a shortage of trucks and drivers.

AAR CEO Ian Jefferies said the unions should accept the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board because they would deliver the biggest raises in nearly 50 years and they represent a compromise.

"Should negotiations fail and result in a work stoppage, Congress must act to implement the PEB recommendations,” Jefferies said.

A Labor Department spokesman confirmed that Walsh took part in the talks Wednesday. If this contract dispute does fall to Congress to resolve, lawmakers might be forced to make some difficult decisions in an election year.

A coalition of 31 large agricultural groups sent a letter to Congress Thursday urging lawmakers to be prepared to intervene and block a strike if the two sides can't reach an agreement before next Friday's deadline. They say they are already dealing with delayed deliveries because railroads are shorthanded, and the problems would get much worse in a strike even if it were brief.

“Most freight railroads currently lack extra capacity to make up for down time," the agricultural groups said in their letter. “Thus, a sizable portion of freight backlogged due to a stoppage may never be made up leading to less production from rail-dependent businesses to the detriment of producers and consumers.”

Edward Jones analyst Jeff Windau said lawmakers' decisions would be put under a magnifying glass with the midterm elections looming, but they'll “definitely want to keep the economy moving smoothly” if they do have to settle the contract dispute. But Windau said he's optimistic the two sides will reach an agreement over the next week.

Independent railroad analyst Anthony Hatch said the unions are trying to take advantage of the current environment with Democrats in control of the White House and Congress and a tight job market, but ultimately he doesn't think a strike will happen.

“It makes sense for them to hold on until the last minute and try to get the best deal that they can. For the railroads, it makes perfect sense for them to say a disruption would be cataclysmic,” Hatch said.

Even if a strike were to happen, Hatch predicted it would “last not weeks, not days, not hours but minutes” because Congress would intervene. And the long-term cost of these deals may have a bigger impact on the railroads than the short-term crisis of a strike.

Ultimately, ongoing local negotiations on the railroads' proposals to reduce crew sizes from the current two down to one might prove more important to the industry than these wage deals because they will affect how competitive railroads can remain against trucking as autonomous trucks are developed, he said.

That topic has been pushed out of the current national wage negotiations to talks at each individual railroad, although a proposed Federal Railroad Administration rule that would require two-person crews in most instances would make it difficult for railroads to cut crews. The unions have also vigorously opposed reducing crew size because of safety and job concerns.

The heads of the two biggest rail unions — the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division union that represents conductors, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union that represents engineers — said in a joint statement last week that Congress should remain on the sidelines because that would put more pressure on the railroads and help them reach an agreement workers will approve.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Business - Economy
© Copyright 2023 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
As deadline looms, railroads say strike would cost $2B a day
The major freight railroads say in a new report designed to put pressure on unions and Congress that a strike would cost the economy more than $2 billion a day and disrupt deliveries of all kinds of goods and passenger traffic nationwide if it happens after a key deadline passes next Friday without a contract agreement
4:17PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Queen Elizabeth II dead at 96 after 70 years on the throne
Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died
4:11PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Trump documents probe: US is appealing special master ruling
The Justice Department is appealing a judge’s decision to name an independent arbiter to review records seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home
4:08PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Yellen pushes Biden economic plans in battleground Michigan
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has pressed the case for Democratic economic policies during a visit to Ford’s Rouge electric vehicle assembly plant in election-year battleground Michigan
3:28PM ( 54 minutes ago )
Justice Sotomayor visits Bronx for unveiling of her statue
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor returned Thursday to the Bronx community where she grew up to see the unveiling of her bronze statue at a shopping center in the heart of the community
2:15PM ( 2 hours ago )
Unions under pressure because rail strike may cost $2B a day
The major freight railroads say in a new report designed to put pressure on unions and Congress that a strike would cost the economy more than $2 billion a day and disrupt deliveries of all kinds of goods and passenger traffic nationwide if it happens after a key deadline passes next Friday without a contract agreement
1:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Another US congressional delegation in Taiwan amid tensions
Another U.S. congressional delegation is visiting Taiwan as tensions with China remain high over its claims to the island
6:30AM ( 9 hours ago )
Gloves off, Biden embraces tough tone on 'MAGA Republicans'
In recent days, President Joe Biden has sharpened his attacks against Donald Trump and the so-called MAGA Republicans for posing a threat to democracy
5:43AM ( 10 hours ago )
Australia enshrines in law 43% greenhouse gas reduction aim
Australia’s Parliament has enshrined in law the government’s elevated target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43% below 2005 levels by the end of the decade
3:17AM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The queen's sporting fascination was racing: 'I love horses'
Horse racing was Queen Elizabeth II's big sporting love
3:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
Bannon pleads not guilty in 'We Build the Wall' scheme
Former President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Steve Bannon has pleaded not guilty to New York state charges of duping donors who gave money to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border
3:13PM ( 1 hour ago )
Ukraine energy chief: Russia trying to 'steal' nuclear plant
The head of Ukraine’s atomic energy operator is accusing Russia of trying to “steal” Europe’s largest nuclear plant
3:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Dennis Allen-led Saints begin new era vs. rebuilding Falcons
It’s gong to be a bit strange to see someone other than Sean Payton on the New Orleans sideline
2:28PM ( 1 hour ago )
No. 2 Georgia looks to continue strong start against Samford
There will be a coaching reunion when No. 2 Georgia plays Samford in the second game of the season for each team
12:27PM ( 3 hours ago )
Huskers go for 2 wins in row when Helton, Ga Southern visit
Nebraska goes for a second win in a row when Georgia Southern visits Memorial Stadium on Saturday
12:13PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Powell: Higher rates unlikely to cause deep US recession
The last time the Federal Reserve faced inflation as high as it is now, in the early 1980s, it jacked up interest rates to double-digit levels — and in the process caused a deep recession and sharply higher unemployment
12:01PM ( 4 hours ago )
Powell: Higher rates won't likely cause deep US recession
The last time the Federal Reserve faced inflation as high as it is now, in the early 1980s, it jacked up interest rates to double-digit levels — and in the process caused a deep recession and sharply higher unemployment
11:43AM ( 4 hours ago )
European Central Bank makes largest-ever interest rate hike
The European Central Bank has made its largest-ever interest rate increase to combat record inflation that is squeezing consumers and pushing the 19 countries that use the euro currency toward recession
11:21AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Queen Elizabeth II dead at 96 after 70 years on the throne
Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died
4:11PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Trump documents probe: US is appealing special master ruling
The Justice Department is appealing a judge’s decision to name an independent arbiter to review records seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home
4:08PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Queen Elizabeth II has died: Live updates
The U.N. Security Council stood in silent tribute to Queen Elizabeth II at the start of a meeting on Ukraine after the council's current president, France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere, sent condolences on behalf of its 15 members to the government and people of the United Kingdom, her family and friends
4:04PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Queen Elizabeth II, UK's longest-serving monarch, dies at 96
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, has died at age 96
4:01PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Hearing to determine if Missouri boarding school will close
A Missouri boarding school already under scrutiny amid physical and sexual abuse allegations may soon be shut down, following a judge’s ruling
3:50PM ( 31 minutes ago )