After a thirty-day cooling-off period between the railroad unions, the current labor contract will expire at 12:01 AM ET on Friday, September 16th. Though it’s a good sign that ten of twelve unions have already reached a tentative agreement, the two largest – the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, representing over 90,000 workers, have yet to affirm the current offer.
These unions represent North America’s largest Class I railroads, including the BNSF, UP, CSX, NS, and CN. Embargo announcements have started, and we expect to see gradual service reductions before a walkout. As of Friday, September 9th, Norfolk Southern won’t accept security-sensitive or hazmat cargo and won’t accept any intermodal cargo Wednesday, September 14th. This drawdown of operations will help smooth the transition to a work stoppage without upending dangerous cargo that cannot be delayed or left on the rail while negotiations proceed.
One key point many on both sides are stressing is that a strike is far from inevitable, and Congress is expected to step in before a walkout takes place and order people to return to work since the strike is expected to cost the US economy $2 billion. Though Bloomberg reports that President Biden took a keen interest in facilitating a satisfying agreement, we at Edward J. Zarach and Associates will continue to monitor the developments at the respective railroads and keep you posted with updates as information becomes available.
These complicated negotiations are nothing new in our industry, and we’ve spent much of the summer working on a set of cargo contingency plans due to the ILWU negotiations that are still pending. Stressful situations like this are why you need an experienced, professional logistics partner with decades of experience and a network of solution-oriented partners who can navigate the ups and downs of the fallout from labor negotiations. If you want to learn more about how Zarach is staying ahead of the curve, contact your representative today.