Working on the Railroad? Strikes Pending.
As the thirty-day cooling-off period ends on Friday, September 16th, only two unions remain holdouts to an agreement. Unfortunately, those two unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, represent more than 90,000 members and encompass the whole of the US rail system as we know it. With the potential for a strike or lockout coming as early as 12:01 AM Friday, many Class 1 railroads are preparing a service drawdown to prevent a stoppage from upending critical cargo in transit.
The updates are coming in slowly as the railroads decide how to proceed. What we know so far:
Union Pacific (UP) – There has been an embargo on security-sensitive and hazmat cargo since September 12th and new commodities will be added daily as more information unfolds.
Norfolk Southern (NS) – There is an embargo on security-sensitive shipments and time-sensitive cargo.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) – There has been an embargo on hazmat and security-sensitive cargo since September 12th.
Canadian National (CN) – There is an embargo on all hazardous and over-dimensional freight. There will be no movement of specialized cargo.
In the event of a shutdown, some expect federal intervention as certain projections call for each day of a strike potentially coming at a cost of $2 billion per day to the US economy. This is a situation we will be watching closely and updating our story with new developments.
The sticking points seem to be related to quality-of-life benefits, including vacation time, sick time, the attendance policy, and the issue of previous penalizations for taking a day off for funerals. Leading up to the COVID pandemic disruption, the rail industry was deep into significant changes to its operating model that were geared to adding efficiencies. Some of these changes were stressful to the workforces and the ensuing pandemic has since amplified those stresses.
At Bestway, we’re always careful about issues impacting your cargo, and rail shipments are a direct issue that will reverberate up and down the supply chain. As disruption is already a strong issue driving inflation, we’re working to mitigate the delays that our clients face. Please contact your Bestway account representative for any questions. More updates will follow as more information is available.