Rail transport negotiators and unions met in Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s office on Wednesday as the two sides tried to negotiate a deal ahead of a Friday strike deadline.
The meeting began just after 9 a.m. ET. A Labor Department spokesman said talks were continuing until midday. “The parties are negotiating in good faith and have committed to staying at the table today,” the representative said.
The American Railroad Association told CNBC that the railroads, for their part, “have no plans to close workers on Friday if negotiations do not complete successfully.”
Dennis Pierce, the union’s chief negotiator, said members have warned that 10% of the workforce could leave if issues are not resolved before the deadline. Sick time and quality of life policies were The biggest sticking point stay.
“Our suggestion not to pay sick leave is not costing them any money. It’s something they can manage. It doesn’t hurt their business model,” said Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Train Engineers and Training, or BLT. “Railways should start treating employees like humans, rather than imposing these policies that only drive people out of the industry.”
Eight of the 12 rail unions have reached tentative deals with companies as of earlier this week, but two of the biggest unions, BLET and SMART Transportation Division are still talking to carriers. The two groups account for about half of union rail workers. Earlier Wednesday, the youngest union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Vote against the deal.
The cooling-off period, which allowed the two sides to continue negotiations, ends at midnight Friday, meaning a strike could occur in the early morning hours. In anticipation of the strike, railroads have already begun to divert freight.
Trade unions began distributing strike information to members in case an agreement could not be reached by the deadline. A person familiar with the negotiations said the move was “a normal procedure for preparing union workers to strike”.
“This is not an indication that a strike is actually going to happen. This is part of the preparedness measures,” said the person, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the effort.
Come and Share Walsh Biden administration Getting ready to stop working. The strike, which could affect about 60,000 workers and disrupt more than 7,000 trains, could cost the US economy more than $2 billion a day.
In an email to members, the National Association of Customs Brokers of America listed the timetable for the closings. CNBC has compiled a list of some changes to the railroad ahead of the deadline:
- Wednesday: BNSF owned by Berkshire HathawayStop moving refrigerated units into indoor facilities
- Wednesday: Southern Norfolk stops receiving exports
- Thursday: CN stops receiving exports
Southern Norfolk Other rail lines are ramping up freight in anticipation of a hit to transport hazardous materials such as chlorine and ethanol. This shipping takes priority over combined shipping.
But NS told CNBC it had changed some plans to accommodate more regular shipments.
“We continue to offer customers as much flexibility as possible for as long as possible,” a rail spokesperson told CNBC Wednesday. “We have extended the time period for accepting trucks transporting containers to our ground stations until 5pm.”
Originally, NS had intended to stop accepting containers Tuesday.
Recovery from the disruption caused by the strike could take weeks, if not months, according to CNBC.
Delivery of large transmission and distribution transformers, natural gas turbines and power generators, as well as renewable technology such as wind tower sections and blades, depends on U.S. rail systems, said Marco Buesler, COO of UTC Overseas. ‘Crushing delays’ for deliveries.
“Moving such cargo takes months of railroad planning and engineering resources to identify available specialized rail assets with the correct axle spread and deck height to achieve rail clearance,” Boesler said.
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