Rail Strikes Break Out Across The U.S. whose economy is in great disaster

After nearly a month of silence, the railroad strike crisis in the United States has resurfaced. According to ABC News, the third largest railroad union in the United States refused to reach a settlement labor agreement with employers, reviving a railroad strike crisis that could have devastated the U.S. economy, which just narrowly avoided a national railroad strike in September. Now, there is still a possibility of mediation between the unions and the railroads and the U.S. government, everything will probably be settled in late November. But if a rail strike breaks out across the U.S., it could also affect the Biden administration’s prospects for governing.

Union rejects settlement

A total of 11,845 members participated in the vote, according to a statement from the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees. The final results show that a total of 6,646 voted against the agreement, 5,100 voted for it, leaving 99 votes null and void.

The union members’ reasons for opposing the agreement, which is similar to the last time, were largely related to the furlough system. President of the union, Tony D. Cardwell explained, “Railroad workers feel worthless, and they are dissatisfied with the company management’s lack of attention to their quality of life. The company is stubbornly unwilling to provide more paid annual leave, especially when they are sick.”

After the union rejects the agreement, the two sides will enter a period of “status quo,” in which the union will renegotiate with the freight company. During the negotiations, the union will not be able to hold a strike. According to the statement, there will be no new developments in the relevant negotiations until Nov. 19 at the earliest.

One union member said he thought the union’s vote to reject the strike was a big deal. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement, it could have a ripple effect and lead to a strike involving other unions, or to the intervention of Congress.

In response to the workers’ opposition and questions, the National Carriers Council, an organization that negotiates on behalf of the freight companies, said they were disappointed, but nothing has changed. This vote against does not pose an immediate risk of rail service disruption.

In July, the union and the railroad system entered a 60-day period because of President Joe Biden’s intervention. Negotiations stalled and were on the verge of an outright strike as workers demanded that the company improve working conditions, including allowing workers to take unpaid leave to visit doctors.

White House spokesman Robin Patterson said in an email that Biden remains focused on avoiding a rail shutdown, and both sides have indicated they share the same desire. We stand ready to support the efforts of both sides and continue to urge them to complete their respective work and avoid the threat of rail disruption.

Huge labor conflicts

This strike over the treatment of workers has been a long time. The conflict began in late 2019. At that time, several major U.S. railroads and 12 U.S. labor unions started negotiations on the renewal of their contracts for 2020-2024. But both sides were unwilling to compromise on many issues involving their respective interests, and the negotiations stalled.

What exactly has angered U.S. railroad workers? Some media believe that right now, the most serious inflation in the United States in 40 years, the railroad workers experience a substantial shrinkage of the wallet , so they put forward a demand for a pay raise.

But wages are not the only reason. Conflicts between labor and management over work schedules and sick leave policies are the biggest obstacles to reaching an agreement.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the U.S. railroad industry lost more than 40,000 jobs from November 2018 to December 2020. And the U.S. rail industry’s workforce has fallen from more than 1 million in the 1950s to less than 150,000 in 2022.

With staffing shortages, some workers are on call seven days a week and are subject to capitalist on-call rules. In addition, some other companies implemented point systems for attendance. Among other things, workers may not only have some points deducted for taking time off to see a doctor. 

Threatening the supply chain

Previously, the U.S. railroad workers were scheduled to begin a strike on Sept. 16, and on Sept. 15, the White House announced that the railroads and unions reached a tentative agreement. The U.S. media believes that the strike will bring catastrophic consequences to the U.S. economy, which has been struggling under high inflation.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Clark said: “This will be an economic disaster. At that point, the flow of goods in the United States would be frozen, shelves would be empty, workplaces could be closed, and price increases would be inevitable. And this could all happen in less than four days.”

The Association of American Railroads predicts that some 116,000 front-line rail workers will then be involved in a strike that will result in the shutdown of more than 7,000 trains and paralyze about 40 percent of long-distance trade routes.

Other U.S. media believe that the strike may have devastating consequences for the fragile U.S. supply chain. In the United States, there are about 1.1 million jobs directly related to railroads, rail transportation accounts for about 30% of U.S. freight, energy, food and other industries that are particularly dependent on rail transportation will be severely impacted.

On the other hand, the strike and its possible consequences are not good news for the Biden administration. According to the New York Times, the midterm elections to determine whether the Democrats can continue to dominate Congress are just around the corner, inflation has already affected Biden’s support to some extent. The possible strike put Biden in a difficult position at a critical moment, the serious consequences of the strike will have an impact on the Democratic Party’s electoral situation.

To minimize the impact of the strike, the White House has previously reviewed contingency plans to deal with the strike, looking at how to use roads, ports and waterways to offset any damage caused. In addition, White House officials have discussed what emergency powers could be used to ensure the supply of basic goods such as food, energy, and health-related products.

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