Is there ever a good scenario when a train is stopped unexpectedly on the tracks? Typically, no.
Having failed twice to reach consensus on a final contract, Dec. 4 is the new strike deadline between the National Railway Labor Conference and 12 rail worker labor unions.
To date, seven labor unions have ratified the agreement based on the recommendations of the Presidential Emergency Board appointed by President Biden, while two labor unions have voted to reject the agreement.
Three other ratification votes are pending, including the two largest unions, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET) and International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Div. (SMART-TD). Both are scheduled to complete their ratification votes by Nov. 21.
With commodity and farm input transport never-ending and holidays rapidly approaching, numerous agricultural products and consumer goods are at risk of serious delays and devastating economic impacts if the nation’s freight and passenger railways strike in the coming weeks.
The Association of American Railroads estimates a strike would cost the economy $2 billion a day.
Michigan Farm Bureau is asking farmers, business owners, and consumers to urge Congress to intervene by ordering continued train operations. You can send a prewritten or personalized message to your U.S. representative and senator by visiting https://bit.ly/MItrains or texting the phrase MIRAILS to the number 52886.
“While the September and November cooling off period extensions were useful in preventing a strike in the short-term, we need a long-term solution,” said John Kran, Michigan Farm Bureau national legislative council. “Michigan farmers provide, food, fiber and renewable fuel to the state, nation and abroad and a strike would have massive repercussions on the entire industry.
“Farms, agribusinesses, processors, shippers and more would be impacted by taking key inputs, like fertilizer, off the rails and shutting down ethanol refineries that depend on rail transportation.”
The American Farm Bureau Federation recently joined with more than 200 other prominent groups to warn Congress of what’s at stake if a strike were to happen. Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress can impose a resolution from President Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board or order the trains to operate as usual with an extension of negotiations.
“A strike or lockout combined with existing challenges in the rail system, at our ports, with trucking and with record low water levels on the Mississippi River impacting numerous barge shipments would be catastrophic for the agricultural and broader U.S. economies,” the groups wrote in a recent letter.
MFB is asking for comments to be submitted as soon as possible, and by Dec. 4 at the latest.