If this doesn’t sound like recycling old news over and over again, it should, because it is. But the problem is that it has never been fully resolved since we started bringing it up in September. A cascade of unions converged at each do-or-die juncture, with an ever-decreasing number agreeing to more negotiations, eventually rolling back the strike date. There are only a few of them left and they may be digging.
SMART-TD, one of the largest railway unions, rejected a preliminary agreement with the railway management, raising the possibility of a strike in December. The other largest union, BLET, voted to ratify the labor agreement, but said he would honor the picket line.
…BMWED, the Maintenance Brotherhood of Road Workers, plans to strike with the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen, or BRS, on December 5. But the BMWED announced it would extend the cooling-off period if one of the larger unions voted not to ratify the tentative labor agreement. BRS has not said whether it will extend the deadline for negotiations.
SMART-TD, BMWED and BRS accounting for more than 50% of all railway labor.
So, the danger remains. While negotiations continue, there are significant delays in work (as shown in the September strike exercise) because rail traffic does not shut down overnight. All combined with the holiday season.
… “AAR data shows that during the week of Sept. 10, a week when railroads stopped accepting loads due to the threat of a strike, chemical freight was down 1,975 carloads,” Jeff Sloan, ACC’s senior director of transportation policy, told CNBC recently. . “We would expect a similarly dramatic drop in chemical supplies if the embargo were to take place this month.”
Other industries, from agriculture to retail, have warned of the economic risks of the strike.
UPS, Rail’s largest customer, told CNBC it has the capabilities to help manage the situation if a deal that includes a flexible and integrated smart logistics network is not reached. “Our network planning tools also enable extensive coordination between UPS facilities worldwide, including pre-routing packages to alternate lanes to minimize unexpected disruptions for our customers.”
According to the September holiday preparation rules, if BRS keeps the holiday date on December 5, preparations for the holiday are expected to begin on November 28, the day the Senate returns from Thanksgiving recess. The house returns to the hill on November 29.
The four non-signatory unions announced Tuesday that they have all “harmonized” their “staus quo periods” — in other words, synchronized strike dates — that trigger federal safeguards on strike scheduling.
The alignment of the four unions that voted not to ratify the labor agreement provided a clear timetable for plans to prepare for strikes among freight railroads and sensitive cargoes, including chemicals.
…Under federal safety measures, railroad carriers begin preparing for a strike seven days before the strike date. Carriers are beginning to prioritize the transportation and safety of safety-sensitive materials such as chlorine for drinking water and hazardous materials on rail.
Ninety-six hours before the holiday date, chemicals are no longer transported. According to the American Chemical Council, railroad industry data show 1,975 carloads of chemical cargo dropped during the week of Sept. 10, when railroads stopped accepting shipments because of the earlier strike threat.
The Association of American Railroads is expected to announce the planning steps as announced in September.
Estimates of the strike’s impact on the American economy are as high as $2 billion per day. The Biden administration has been taking heat for some time for its perceived laissez-faire (re: non-existent) approach to avoiding the possibility of such a crushing blow to the nation’s already troubled finances. And in the face of a Christmas rail disaster, they’re taking some well-earned heat for their earlier, ill-conceived football leap.
...- Very soon? –
The risk of a major labor dispute had actually been there for months, with the White House averting a strike in September.
In a self-congratulatory move, the president welcomed labor leaders to the Oval Office on Sept. 15 to celebrate the agreement in principle after hours of tense negotiations that stalled, particularly on the issue of sick leave.
Biden then went so far as to declare a “big win for America” during his Rose Garden speech.
Presidential party now it seems premature. That agreement still required ratification by members of the 12 unions in question, but four of the labor groups did not support it.
It’s December here and it’s darn close the same four units are those who decide to walk.
Unions are quite strong in their solidarity.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainers (BLET), one of the largest railway unions, will honor the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen’s (BRS) strike date of December 5, the first date the railway union rejected a proposed labor contract. freight railroad companies may go on strike.
“Our members will absolutely respect the BRS picket line,” BLET President Dennis Pierce told CNBC. “I think every alliance will.”
…“Even though they voted for it, we still didn’t get a lot of votes,” Pierce said. “There’s still a lot of nervousness there. I think you can see evidence of this in the turnout in the SMART-TD vote. So we still have a lot of work to do. There is a lot of anger. The people are still not satisfied.”
It’s not money. Quality of life issues are still the biggest challenge.
…Anger, Pearce said, centers around quality-of-life issues that have persisted in negotiations with railroad management, which has offered workers a significant pay raise and lump-sum payout. Getting time off is part of the BLET contract, and railroad unions are trying to make federal contractors’ sick pay policies a permanent benefit for union members. On Monday afternoon, BMWED and BRS held another round of negotiations with railroad carriers regarding federal sick pay.
So there we go entering Thanksgiving.
Except…there is a rare image. And I can almost feel it…
Where was he? ALL THIS TIME?
It’s like seeing Jim Cantor on Pensacola Beach.
Nobody wants it. Never, always means something good.