Carriers won’t lay off workers, negotiators meet with labor secretary

Negotiators from the rail carriers and unions met Wednesday in Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s office as the two sides tried to negotiate ahead of a Friday strike deadline.

The meeting started after 9 am. A spokesman for the Department of Labor said negotiations were ongoing until noon. “The parties are negotiating in good faith and have committed to stay at the table today,” the representative said.

The railroads, for their part, “have no plans to lock out workers on Friday unless negotiations are successfully concluded,” the Association of American Railroads told CNBC.

Dennis Pearce, the unions’ top negotiator, has warned members that 10% of the workforce could walk out if the issues are not resolved before the deadline. There were concerns about sick time policies and quality of life The biggest sticking points The rest.

“Our proposal is unpaid sick time doesn’t cost them money. It’s something they can manage. It doesn’t hurt their business model,” said Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, or BLET. “Instead of imposing these policies that drive people out of the industry, we need to start treating railway workers like human beings.”

Eight of the 12 rail unions reached tentative agreements with the companies earlier this week, but the two largest unions, BLET and the SMART transport division, are still in talks with the carriers. Both groups represent about half of unionized railroad workers. Earlier on Wednesday, a smaller union, the International Union of Machinists and Aerospace Workers He voted against the treaty.

A so-called cooling-off period that allowed the two sides to resume negotiations ends at midnight on Friday, meaning a strike could happen in the early hours of the morning. Railways have already started diverting cargo ahead of the strike.

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If an agreement is not reached by the deadline, labor unions have begun distributing strike information to members. A person familiar with the negotiations said it was “routine practice to prepare union employees for a strike.”

“This is not an indication that there will actually be a strike. It is part of preparation procedures,” said the person, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the efforts.

Walsh’s involvement comes as Biden administration Preparing for a strike. A strike, which could affect about 60,000 workers and disrupt more than 7,000 trains, costs the U.S. economy more than $2 billion a day.

In an email to members, the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America listed a timeline of the closures. CNBC has compiled a list of some of the train changes ahead of deadline:

  • Wednesday: PNSF Berkshire HathawayStops moving refrigerated units to domestic facilities
  • Wednesday: Norfolk Southern stops receiving exports
  • Thursday: CN stops receiving shipments

Norfolk South And other railroads are reducing freight traffic in anticipation of the strike to move critical hazmat materials like chlorine and ethanol. This cargo takes priority over general cargo.

But NS told CNBC that it has changed some plans to accommodate regular cargo.

“We continue to offer as much flexibility as we can to customers,” a railway spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday. “We have extended the deadline for accepting trucks bringing containers into our land terminals till 5pm today.”

Initially, NS intended to stop accepting containers on Tuesday.

According to CNBC, recovery from the disruption created by the strike could take weeks, if not months.

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“Transmission and distribution, distribution of natural gas turbines and large transformers for power generation, and renewable technology such as wind turbine blades and blades rely on U.S. rail systems,” said Marco Poisler, COO of UTC Overseas. “Excessive delays” to deliveries.

“Transporting such freight requires months of planning and railroad engineering resources to identify available specialty rail assets with the proper axle spread and deck height to achieve railroad clearances,” Boisler said.

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