A Crippling Railroad Strike Is Looming, Just In Time For the Holidays

It looks like the trains may stop running on time for Christmas.

On Monday, the SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD), the largest railroad union in the country, narrowly voted down a contract offered by the White House. That means the possibility of a strike just in time for the holiday season.

ABC News:

The SMART Transportation Division, or SMART-TD, which represents about 28,000 conductors, rejected the contract in a vote that garnered record turnout, the union said Monday. The contract was nixed by a slim margin, as just 50.8% of workers voted against it.

The second-largest rail union, made up of engineers, voted in favor of the contract on Monday, splitting the top rail unions, which represent roughly half of the industry’s workers.

This is significant because back in September, President Biden proudly announced his administration had reached an agreement with railroad unions to avoid a strike. However, at the time, unions did not confirm the agreement, leading to speculation that the only agreement Biden reached was for everyone to be quiet until midterm elections were over.

RedState reported on the “deal” at the time:

As RedState reported on Thursday, the Biden administration has reached a tentative deal with national railroad workers and their union, following threats of a railroad strike. Such a strike could hobble the nation’s already precarious supply chain issues even more. With two months to go before midterms, the administration was under a lot of pressure to avoid yet another economic catastrophe. A deal was reached with a mere 24 hours to the deadline.

However, it turns out that the details of the deal are not even being revealed to the rail workers, and some are questioning whether or not they really got what they were asking for.

From The Washington Post:

Despite the breakthrough, critical questions remained. None of the parties involved in the talks has confirmed the number of unpaid sick days for which workers will be eligible, and some details about other provisions in the agreement remained unclear.

It’s a Christmas miracle!

There are eleven railroad unions. The White House contract can only be ratified if all eleven unions agree. So far only four of the unions have done so. Unless SMART-TD can negotiate a deal they feel comfortable with, a strike seems inevitable. All eleven unions have agreed they won’t cross picket lines should a strike be called.

A railroad strike during the busiest season of the year could spell disaster for an already struggling economy. It could also create an even more serious drag on the supply chain. Americans ship trillions of tonnes of products by train every year. In 2020, America’s freight trains shipped over 2.1 trillion tonne-kilometers (one tonne of goods per one kilometer) across the country.

 

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