Update: Rail Freight strikes in the United States

October 10, 2022

Rail Labor Union Negotiation – Potential Strike

According to a recently released article from Associated Press, the third largest railroad union rejected its deal with freight railroads Monday — renewing the possibility of a strike that could cripple the economy — but before that could happen, both sides will return to the bargaining table.

Please find some of the highlights from the potential Rail Strike below:

  • About 56% of the track maintenance workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division Union voted in opposition to the five-year contract proposed by Rail Operators.
  • BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX, and Norfolk Southern agreements were approved by four railroad unions. However, 12 other unions must ratify their contracts to prevent a strike.
  • The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way union said it agreed to delay any strike until five days after Congress reconvenes in mid-November to allow time for additional negotiations.

We are currently monitoring the situation, and we will keep you posted with any new updates.

Further details via The Associated Press are available here.

If you have concerns about the potential strike action on the railroads, connect with our experts here.

Railroad Strike agreement reached - UPDATE 

A tentative agreement has been reached between the Unions and Railroad management to avoid the potential strike that would impact domestic rail freight in the United States. The deal is still pending ratification by members, but positive reports claim that pay increases and backdated pay have been agreed. A statement from the White House remarked

"The tentative agreement reached tonight is an important win for our economy and the American people. It is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers who worked tirelessly through the pandemic to ensure that America’s families and communities got deliveries of what has kept us going during these difficult years.

These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned. The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come."

Railroad strikes - United States

A looming strike on the railroads in the United States could create significant supply chain disruption if an agreement is not reached by this Friday. 

Two of the largest unions have yet to conclude that a walkout of operatives is not an option.

The unions have advised that working conditions must be improved in order for workers to reach an agreement. 

U.S. freight railroads are owned by private organizations that are responsible for maintenance and improvements. According to the U.S. department of transportation, the freight rail industry equates to $ 80 billion.

The union's statement cited, "The railroads are using shippers, consumers and the supply chain of our nation as pawns in an effort to cave into their contract demands," 

A 60-day 'cooling-off period' from when the intended strikes were first announced ends this Friday at 12.01 am ET.

Detailed information from Rail Operators:

Union Pacific Railroad (https://www.up.com/)

Union Pacific began to secure hazardous and other security-sensitive materials for safety purposes. In addition, UP will embargo new shipments of hazardous commodities until those shipments can safely arrive at their destination. This is a proactive measure UP is taking ahead of any potential work stoppages due to an impasse in labor negotiations. A list of the specific commodities affected can be viewed here.

You may reference the Embargo page: UP: Embargo List or the AAR Embargo System (railinc.com) for active embargoes.

Norfolk Southern Railway (NS) (http://www.nscorp.com/)

Effective 17:00 local time on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, Norfolk Southern will close all gates to Intermodal traffic. General Guidelines:

  • In-gates for loaded or empty intermodal units for rail movement will close at all NS Intermodal terminals.
  • Traffic originating at on-dock port facilities and privately owned intermodal terminals will not be accepted.
  • Customers with eastbound interline shipments should contact the originating rail carrier regarding guidelines for accepting traffic at the origin.
  • Until further notice, out-gates will remain open at all NS Intermodal terminals during normal business hours for customers to pick up units.

BNSF (https://www.bnsf.com/)

BNSF Railway announced late Monday that temperature-controlled containers would not be accepted as of 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday but provided no deadline to tender dry containers. In addition to this, BNSF will be taking steps to manage and secure hazardous and security-sensitive materials.

CSX (https://www.csx.com/)

CSX is taking steps to ensure the safety of highly hazardous, toxic by inhalation, and poisonous by inhalation (TIH/PIH), materials in the event of a potential rail labor strike. To prepare for the possibility of a work stoppage, the company took action by issuing an embargo on all TIH/PIH shipments and other safety-sensitive freight effective Monday, Sept. 12.

The pending strike does not impact Canadian source and destined cargo.

If you have concerns relating to the potential strike action on the railroads, don't hesitate to speak to one of our advisors, enter your details here.

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