Pressure mounts on US railroads and unions to reach a deal

Sep 11, 2022, 11:57 PM | Updated: Sep 14, 2022, 7:20 am
FILE - A Norfolk Southern freight train passes a train on a siding as it approaches a crossing in H...

FILE - A Norfolk Southern freight train passes a train on a siding as it approaches a crossing in Homestead, Pa., Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Freight railroads and their unions are facing increasing pressure from business groups and the White House to settle their contract dispute. They face a looming strike deadline on Friday, Sept. 16, and business groups say a stoppage halting deliveries of raw materials and finished products that so many companies rely on would be an economic disaster. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Freight railroads and their unions are facing increasing pressure from business groups and the White House to settle their contract dispute before Friday’s looming strike deadline.

The pressure stems from concerns that halting railroad deliveries of raw materials and finished products that so many companies rely on would be, in the words of the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an “economic disaster.”

A White House official said President Joe Biden and members of his cabinet were in touch with the unions and railroads Monday as part of their efforts to avert a strike. And for the second time in the past week, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh sat down at the negotiating table Sunday to urge the parties to reach a deal. Walsh postponed a planned to trip to Ireland this week to remain close to the talks.

A Labor Department spokesperson said Monday that it’s crucial that the parties remain at the negotiating table and come to an agreement because “a shutdown of our freight rail system is an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people.”

Suzanne Clark, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that “a national rail strike would be an economic disaster — freezing the flow of goods, emptying shelves, shuttering workplaces and raising prices for families and businesses alike.”

The chamber joined a number of other business groups, including a coalition of 31 agricultural shipping trade groups, in sending letters to Congress urging lawmakers to be prepared to step in and block a strike if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by the end of the week. The chamber said if it comes to that, Congress should impose the terms recommended by a Presidential Emergency Board that Biden appointed this summer.

The Association of American Railroads trade group put out a report last week estimating that shutting down the railroads would cost the economy $2 billion a day.

The coalition negotiating on behalf of the nation’s biggest freight railroads — including Union Pacific, CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF and Kansas City Southern — has announced eight of the 13 tentative agreements needed to avert a strike by some 115,000 rail workers.

The deals that have been announced so far have closely followed the Presidential Emergency Board’s recommendations that called for 24% raises over five years, $5,000 in bonuses and one additional paid leave day a year. But the two biggest unions representing conductors and engineers have been holding out because they want the railroads to go beyond those recommendations and address some of their concerns about strict attendance policies and working conditions.

The railroads have said they would begin curtailing shipments of hazardous materials and some other goods Monday in advance of a possible work stoppage at the end of the week. That would ensure that containers of those dangerous goods aren’t left stranded along the tracks.

The heads of 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, criticized that decision as a move to increase pressure on shippers and Congress to intervene.

The federal law governing railroad contract talks won’t allow a strike or lockout before Friday.

___

Associated Press reporter Josh Boak contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

UN envoy: Iraq is `highly volatile’ and leaders must talk

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Iraq warned Tuesday that the situation in the country remains “highly volatile” nearly a year after last October’s elections failed to form a government, saying all sides have made “strategic mistakes” and it’s now time for all Iraqi leaders to hold talks “and pull the country […]
13 hours ago
FILE - Celina Washburn protests outside the Arizona Capitol to voice her dissent with an abortion r...
Associated Press

Arizona abortion rights backers sue to overturn old ban

PHOENIX (AP) — Supporters of abortion rights on Tuesday sued to block an old Arizona law that criminalizes nearly all abortions, arguing that laws passed by the state Legislature after 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision should take precedence and abortions should be allowed until 15 weeks into a pregnancy. The lawsuit filed by a Phoenix […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for November delivery rose $2.89 to $86.52 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude for December delivery rose $2.94 to $91.80 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for November delivery rose 17 cents to $2.68 a gallon. November heating oil rose 17 cents to $3.54 a gallon. November natural gas rose 37 cents to $6.84 […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

W.Va. Supreme Court hears arguments in school voucher case

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A voucher program that would provide West Virginia parents state money to pull their children out of K-12 public schools is blatantly unconstitutional and would disproportionately impact poor children and those with disabilities, a lawyer representing parents who sued the state argued Tuesday in the state Supreme Court. The Hope Scholarship […]
13 hours ago
Associated Press

Aunt accused of pushing nephew into lake charged with murder

CHICAGO (AP) — A suburban Chicago woman has been charged with first-degree murder more than a week after the death of her 3-year-old nephew, who she allegedly pushed into Lake Michigan and watched as he sank into the water. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office announced the murder charge Tuesday against Victoria Moreno, 34. She […]
13 hours ago
FILE - In this April 14, 2017 file photo, as crew members stand on the deck, the aircraft carrier U...
Associated Press

US Navy’s newest carrier deploys to train with NATO nations

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Navy’s most advanced aircraft carrier embarked on its first-ever deployment Tuesday and will train with other NATO countries amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The USS Gerald R. Ford left the world’s largest Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, along with destroyers and other ships that make up its carrier strike […]
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Pressure mounts on US railroads and unions to reach a deal