Potential railroad strike causing concern around the nation

Strike could come as early as Dec. 9

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik, File) (Danny Karnik, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Concerns are mounting as a potential railroad strike could be here as soon a Dec. 9. Multiple railroad unions so far have rejected contract offers over issues like paid sick time and work schedules.

If the railroads do go on strike, it could deal a huge economic and supply chain blow nationally.

The question is whether the railroads and multiple unions can strike a deal by Dec. 9 to avert a shutdown of rail lines.

The Biden administration says it’s currently working with both sides to come up with a deal. The primary estimate, if there is a shutdown, is it could cost the US economy $2 billion a day.

This is the second time we’ve seen this possibility in recent months. In September, there were also rumblings of a shutdown, but a deal was struck to avoid it.

At the time, News4JAX spoke with a local labor relations lawyer who said these types of negotiations are extremely large and complex because they deal with several unions. 

“Oftentimes companies can have multiple labor unions representing different bargaining units within the organization. For instance, a utility company may have one union representing people that work on the lines, others water and sewer,” said attorney James Poindexter.

The primary issues rail workers are raising concern things like paid sick leave and hours they have to work.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said, “We’ve got to get to a solution that does not subject the American economy to the threat of a shutdown.”

The last time US rail workers went on strike was in 1992. Back then, Congress intervened on terms to get them back to work. There is some talk of Congressional intervention if the two sides can’t agree.

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