Editor’s note: This story was updated following news of a tentative agreement being reached to prevent the potential rail strike. The original story is still below.
A tentative agreement has been reached between the National Carriers’ Conference Committee that represents the nation’s leading railroads and the remaining unions representing railroad workers. While subject to ratification by union membership, this tentative agreement will prevent a railroad strike from occurring.
In a statement, President Biden says, “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 have 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.”
Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, says, “We are extremely pleased both sides were able to arrive at an agreement. Our nation’s railroads are integral to the success of the American farmer. Without cost-effective, reliable rail service, so much of what farmers produce will never connect with our domestic and international customers. American farmers are responding to the challenges of global food insecurity. We need our nation’s railroads to be a reliable partner in this effort. A strike, lockout, or significant slowdown would have imposed significant harm on agriculture – particularly on the eve of harvest. The tentative agreement allows farmers and U.S. agriculture to proceed with doing what they do best – being the highest quality, most reliable provider of food to the world.”
The American Association of Railroads had said the potential strike would have been a $2 billion hit to the American economy each day of the strike, with agriculture taking the brunt of that hit.
The original story is below:
Farm groups and lawmakers are warning officials that a possible railroad strike beginning Friday would devastate American agriculture, which heavily relies on the rail system.
A cooling-off period between railroads and unions is in effect, but that ends Friday.
The Hagstrom Report says railroads have already announced they won’t accept hazardous materials, including fertilizer, in the event of a strike. BNSF recently said they aren’t accepting exports of refrigerated and hazardous cargoes as of Wednesday.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Nebraska’s Deb Fischer says people need to understand what kind of economic impact a strike would have.
“It will upend our nation’s agricultural sector,” she says. “The consequences would be devastating.”
She also points out that fertilizer prices, already high because of inflation, will further skyrocket.
“Family farmers already need a good harvest season to keep up with costs,” she adds. “If there’s no rail service, that’s out the window.”
Source: NAFB News Service