▶️ Possible rail strike Friday: Here’s how that could affect you, the economy


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Business and government officials are bracing for the possibility of a nationwide rail strike at the end of this week while talks carry on between the largest U.S. freight railroads and their unions.

The railroads have already started to curtail shipments of hazardous materials and refrigerated products ahead of Friday’s strike deadline.

Businesses that rely on railroads to deliver their raw materials and finished products have started planning for the worst.

Meanwhile, Biden administration officials are scrambling to develop a plan to use trucks, ships and planes to try to get the most crucial shipments delivered. But the White House is also keeping the pressure up on both sides to settle their differences.

“We have made crystal clear to the interested parties, the harm that American families, businesses and farmers and communities would experience if they were not to reach a resolution,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

RELATED: Employees at timber company Weyerhaeuser strike over wages

Labor Secretary Martin Walsh is meeting railroad executives and union leaders in Washington, D.C. Wednesday. The two sides are still at odds over sick time and attendance policies.

30 percent of all  U.S. freight shipments could be impacted if there is a strike, putting further strain on the overwhelmed supply chain at a time when Americans are already dealing with inflation.

“There’s just no question that it would be extremely devastating and its impacts would compound very rapidly over a couple of days,” said Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at KPMG.

A federal law on the books actually allows Congress to step in and prevent railway workers from striking, but Democratic leaders say they are not going to go down that road.

“Let me tell you, first and foremost, I don’t believe that’s a good idea. I believe that the unions as well as the railroads should step up to the plate and get this done quickly. It would really be damaging to our economy to do otherwise,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Republican Senatore Jerry Moran of Kansas says he’s worried about farmers being able to ship crops. He says Congress should act.

“I will utilize my opportunities as a member of the senate as a member of Congress for Congressional intervention and work to shield the impact of a rail shutdown across the nation.”

Amtrak has started preemptively canceling long-haul service on affected tracks and some commuter rail lines are warning customers to find alternate transportation plans beginning Friday.



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