Why the nation is once again close to a devastating freight railroad strike
November 23, 2022 at 15:16
The tentative agreements made some improvements in those issues, but they didn’t come close to what the union was seeking.
And that, plus the record profits being reported by many of the railroads last year and likely again this year, prompted many workers to vote no.
Only 54% members in the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), the second largest rail union, voted for the deal.
Passed in 1926, it was one of the nation’s first labor laws and put all types of restrictions on strikes by rail workers that don’t exist for union members at most other businesses.
He said other businesses know they face costs if a union goes on strike that the railroads don’t have to pay.
A strike would be a body blow to the nation’s still-struggling supply chain, as 30% of the nation’s freight as measured by weight and distance traveled, moves by rail.
The US economy, which many think is at risk of tipping into recession, would be severely damaged by a prolonged rail strike.
Would a divided Lame Duck Congress be able to find bipartisan agreement to act, and act quickly, to prevent or end a strike?
One rail union, the machinists, initially rejected the deal, only to ratify a slightly revised agreement, albeit with only 52% of members voting in favor.
Still, Pierce and other union leaders worry that even some pro-union members of Congress could vote to block or end a strike rather than be blamed for the disruptions a strike would cause.
If Congress does act, the Railway Labor Act is doing what it was designed to do, the railroads say.
The last work stoppage we had was 30 years ago, and it lasted 24 hours before overwhelming bipartisan congressional [action to end the strike].