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Ancient Gaseous Emanation
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NOVEMBER 21, 2022

Problems with an already-shaky economy and a rough holiday season could become exacerbated by the renewed threat of a nationwide rail strike. Just the News explains that coal transportation would be affected along with passenger service. But it is worth noting that rail companies also transport a variety of items. These may include automobiles, food, furniture, toys, fuel, and construction materials. The site did not report how these things would be impacted by the strike. As the situation stands now, the strike could cost the nation billions. This, of course, comes at a time when consumer expectations are higher than normal, energy usage and prices are up across the nation, and people are finding that their dollar does not have nearly the buying power it once did.

There are 12 railroad unions involved in the issue. All 12 need to agree to the contract, and if one union declines, as was the case on Sunday night, the others would refuse to cross the proverbial picket line out of solidarity.

The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) said in a press release that fellow union Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) ratified the contract with 53.5% of the membership voting for the deal. But SMART-TD rejected the contract; the decision was split, with 50.87% of train and engine service members represented by SMART-TD voting to reject the deal. 62.48% of Yardmasters elected to ratify it. So, it’s back to negotiations. In the release, SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson stated:

“SMART-TD members with their votes have spoken, it’s now back to the bargaining table for our operating craft members. This can all be settled through negotiations and without a strike. A settlement would be in the best interests of the workers, the railroads, shippers and the American people. The ball is now in the railroads’ court. Let’s see what they do. They can settle this at the bargaining table. But, the railroad executives who constantly complain about government interference and regularly bad-mouth regulators and Congress now want Congress to do the bargaining for them.”
The press release went on to say that a status quo agreement between SMART-TD and management will remain in place until December 8. After that date, members can strike or rail carriers could lock out workers. Congress is on break until November 28, leaving little time for legislators to address the situation. Politico points out that the GOP takes over the House in January, albeit with a small majority. Republicans could impose the recommendations made by a special board created by President Biden earlier in the year, which could negate any previous deals. Politico said that Democrats would like to see a strike averted and would prefer to avoid taking action, but they also want the companies to meet employees’ demands over scheduling and sick leave.

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