Image source: Financial Times
Railroad and union officials said they would travel to Washington on Wednesday for a meeting aimed at mitigating a potential rail freight strike.
They will meet with Labor Secretary Marty Wash as the Biden administration tries to avoid a blow to the economy.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the SMART Transportation Division are the two major unions in conflict with the railroads.
Both unions should send their union leaders to meet with Walsh and hold talks.
The meeting comes days before a federally mandated cooling-off period, after which a strike could begin.
A rail strike is a major test for President Joe Bien and the White House, which has boasted one of the most union-friendly administrations in decades.
The government is trying to avoid potential shocks to the economy, especially with the midterm elections fast approaching.
More than 60,000 union members working for the railways are being asked to strike after midnight this Friday.
Participating members include engineers and conductors, who make up the two-person crews for each train.
Another 45,000 workers belong to unions that have tentative agreements with the railways. However, a strike by engineers and drivers could put a brake on the freight rail system.
What could it mean?
The closure would have huge implications for the entire supply chain and would affect the US passenger rail system.
Over 30% of the country’s freight is transported by rail; gas, food, consumer goods, and vehicles could go up in price or become scarcer if a closure occurs.
Amtrak also feels huge implications for its service due to the way it travels on the tracks owned by freight rail companies.
Services have already been canceled on major long-haul routes through the United States pending a possible strike.
The closure has put officials in trouble, and the White House has contingency plans with job interviews at a dead end.
Federal government agencies are working on options available to keep critical supply chains operational.
President Joe Biden personally called unions and railroad companies earlier this week during his visit to Boston in an attempt to prevent a strike.
Biden continues to receive updates on the high-stakes deals.
A White House official revealed that the Biden administration is working with freight forwarders, truck drivers, and air transport to figure out how other modes of transportation can move goods in the event of a railroad disruption.
One of the most important concerns is how they can transport hazardous materials.
However, an official revealed that there were daily meetings between the departments of agriculture, defense, federal emergency management, health and human services, and transportation.
Railroad and union officials summoned to Washington for high-stakes day of talks