Texas economy

Possible railroad strike could hit Ohio’s economy hard

Gov. Mike DeWine’s office says it is monitoring the negotiations.

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ohio — When it comes to railroad miles, Ohio ranks third in the nation, behind Illinois and Texas.

On Friday, two railway unions representing more than 50,000 employees threatened to leave work. They say that quality of life is a major issue.

“We are faced with the possibility of a strike because the railroad refuses to grant a single day of sick leave,” said Ron Kaminkow, a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, l one of the unions that did not reach an agreement.

“It’s about the phone ringing at 2 a.m. to be at work at 4 a.m. after only 10 hours of rest beforehand. It’s about not knowing when you’re coming home and being disciplined up to and including dismissal if you have to go to the doctor,” he said.

“Railway workers are on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Clyde Whitaker of the Sheetmetal, Air, Rail and Transportation union.

Trains accounted for about 28% of total freight movements in the United States, according to government data for 2020, making it the busiest mode after trucks. Half of this traffic carries bulk commodities – particularly food, energy, chemicals, metals and wood products – as well as automobiles and industrial parts. The remaining 50% is mostly made up of shipping containers carrying smaller consumer goods.

A potential strike puts Delaware County farmers like Bret Davis in a tough spot.

Its corn and soybeans are ready to be harvested, but a strike prevents them from reaching the market since they are shipped by rail. He can store them on his farm, but he does not earn any money.

“We have enough storage to be able to put it in the fall, most of the time, but what are we going to do after that? We have to pay our bills, it has to move,” Davis said.

If corn or other products cannot be transported by rail, it will disrupt an already weak supply chain and drive up prices.

Norfolk-Southern Railroad issued a statement saying: “We have informed our customers that we will be temporarily halting certain types of shipments from September 12. Additionally, to safely reduce our network and allow us to restore service quickly, some other customers will see a preliminary reduction in service prior to September 16. If the two remaining unions agree not to strike, we will fully resume our activities. We have communicated to all parties to the negotiations that we will not lock out unionized employees. Our goal is to keep our country’s economy moving, serve our customers and make deals with the remaining unions. »

There are 13 unions involved in the negotiations. Eleven of them have reached an agreement in principle.

Whitacker said the other unions have time off, so they accepted a contract. He says salary is also on the table.

“Even during the pandemic, they made record profits, and we ran the trains that did that. If the engineers and conductors aren’t on the trains, the railroads aren’t making money,” he said. he declared.

The Union Pacific Railroad also released a statement saying: “Given the imminent possibility of a nationwide railroad strike, we will begin securing hazardous materials and other safety-sensitive materials on September 12 to protect employees. , the customers and communities we serve. We are working with customers to provide updates as they become available. While these actions are necessary, they do not mean that a work stoppage is What we want, and continue to push, is a quick resolution that delivers historic wage increases to employees and allows the railways to restore service as soon as possible, avoiding further disruption to the supply chain. supply in difficulty.”

President Joe Biden has personally spoken to two of the railroad and railroad unions to prevent a strike, according to a White House official. Bloomberg first reported the president’s talks. The official added that Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are also engaged in the talks, CBS News reports.

The Association of American Railroads report found that a nationwide disruption to rail service would impact economic output and could cost more than $2 billion per day of downtime.

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