The heads of the nation’s two largest rail unions say the 7 major freight railroads are trying to frighten Congress to impose a new contract on their members.
The railroads last week said they will begin delaying some hazardous shipments ahead of this Friday’s looming strike deadline, a move the unions representing engineers and conductors say is simply intended to put pressure on Congress.
The 12 railroad unions have been working without a contract since 2019 and a federal panel last month recommended an agreement with a pay raise retroactive to 2020 and running through 2025 that totals 24% and $5,000 bonuses.
Five unions have announced tentative 5-year agreements based on the federal panel’s plan, but several key unions are holding out in the hope that the railroads will also address some of their concerns about working conditions.
The railroads say a strike would cost the economy more than $2 billion a day, disrupt deliveries of all kinds of goods, and impact passenger traffic nationwide
A coalition of 31 agriculture groups sent a letter to Congress last Thursday urging lawmakers to be prepared to intervene to block a strike if necessary.