Country should brace for economic ‘catastrophe’ if railway strike progresses, manufacturers group warns

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A freight railroad strike will have “devastating” consequences for the United States. economy and will significantly set back any progress made over the past year to rein in U.S. inflation rates, the president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers warned Wednesday.

“If it goes south and we see a strike, it could be devastating for manufacturers, it could be devastating for consumers,” Jay Timmons told Fox News, noting that “we just need to see this thing be done”.

Unions representing railway workers on Wednesday rejected a proposed agreement with rail carriers and plan to go ahead with a strike demanding new railway concessions that would improve working conditions for members.


Amtrak canceled some of its long-distance routes in anticipation of a strike.
(AP file photo)

The Biden administration was involved in negotiations to avert a strike, which the Association of American Railroads (AAR) said would cost more than $2 billion a day, hurting both businesses and consumers.

Timmons said the country should prepare for “potential disaster” if a deal is not reached by Friday’s deadline.

“We say potential because there is still time to fix this problem, but there are only a few days left,” he said on “America Reports”. “We really have to get this under control and it’s a trade-off. These negotiations are always trade-offs. But it’s the biggest pay rise we’ve ever seen for railway workers. So that’s a lot.”

Amtrack on Wednesday canceled some of its long-distance routes in anticipation of a possible disruption to freight rail service later this week. The railroads have already begun to cut shipments of hazardous materials and have announced plans to stop transporting refrigerated goods before Friday’s strike deadline.

Timmons said businesses that rely on railroads to deliver their goods should start planning for supply chain disruptions.

“You mentioned all kinds of goods moving by rail. Here’s one to think about: chlorine. We already have members… reporting that they’re stopping their shipments,” he said. “One of them is chlorine. You can’t risk the fact that chlorine can sit there unattended. What does that mean for drinking water across the country? boil alerts all over the country like we see in Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi?”

West Palm Beach, Brightline passenger train.

West Palm Beach, Brightline passenger train.
(Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“Maybe we’ve got inflation under control at this point, so now we’re going to turn around and start all over again and do it to ourselves? Doesn’t that make sense,” Timmons added.

Timmons hailed President Biden as the “most pro-union president of my life” and called on the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to “flex some muscle” to get the deal done.

If a deal is not reached in time, Congress should get involved to stop any shutdowns. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she was now engaged with the White House and the unions in a bid to avert a strike, adding that she would rather see a negotiated settlement than action by the Congress.


“Let’s do it,” Timmons said. “Let’s make sure that commerce in the United States is not disrupted because of a disagreement that has already been negotiated by the Presidential Emergency Board.”

Four unions remain reluctant to the agreement proposed by the Emergency Presidential Council. Eight other railway unions have accepted the plan.


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