A Massive Rail Strike Looms As Unions Fight For Sick Leave

by | Sep 14, 2022 | Politics

A showdown between freight rail carriers and their workers’ unions could shut down the U.S. rail system if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by Friday, which would create a disruption with vast economic and political repercussions.A dozen unions representing more than 100,000 workers have been trying to negotiate new contracts with the major rail carriers, including Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and CSX. While most have reached a tentative deal with the industry, two major unions still have not come to an agreement, and another union said Wednesday that its membership had voted to reject theirs.AdvertisementThe deadline to reach an accord is midnight Friday morning. Failing that, there are several possible outcomes.The workers could go on strike, shutting down the freight rail system; the rail companies could lock the workers out of their jobs, achieving the same practical effect; Congress could impose contract terms on both sides whether they like it or not; or the deadline could be extended.The impact of a shutdown could be so severe that President Joe Biden has been urging the carriers and the unions to reach a compromise as soon as possible, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh was meeting with both sides on Wednesday morning in hopes of averting a work stoppage.“A shutdown of our freight rail system is an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people, and all parties must work to avoid just that,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.AdvertisementWhat’s the dispute about?A collective bargaining agreement has many moving parts to it during negotiations: wages, health care coverage, retirement …

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