Yesterday the nation's largest railroad union voted to reject a tentative labor agreement that was brokered by the Biden administration. This increases the likelihood of an economic-debilitating strike in the rail sector ahead of the holidays. A strike could begin as early as December 5, unless an agreement is reached or Congress intervenes with preventive measures.
According to the Association of American Railroads, a rail strike could cost the U.S. economy approximately $2 billion per day. A shipping disruption of this magnitude could have a ripple effect that could cause food shortages around the world. The American Chemistry Council estimates that $2.8 billion worth of chemical shipments would be affected each week.
What are the workers' demands?
According to union officials, the rejection of the contract was due to management's failure to address unfair attendance policies and persistent understaffing problems since the pandemic.
According to one federal agency, freight carriers now employ 30% fewer workers than six years ago.
Twelve unions must approve the contract… And yesterday the SMART Transportation Division union voted down the contract joining a few smaller unions who have also rejected it. BLET, the other largest union, narrowly voted in favor of the contract, but stated that it would respect the picket lines.