Media Kit » Try RailPrime™ Today! »
Progressive Railroading
Newsletter Sign Up
Stay updated on news, articles and information for the rail industry

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

View Current Digital Issue »

Rail News Home Labor


Rail News: Labor

Class Is prep for rail strike, unions cry 'corporate extortion'

Norfolk Southern Railway announced it is enacting its contingency plan for a controlled shutdown of its network.
Photo –


The six Class Is are taking steps to manage and secure hazardous and security-sensitive materials in preparation for a possible rail strike that could occur after the cooling-off period between the railroads and unions ends Sept. 16.

"Railroads are taking all measures necessary to handle sensitive cargo in accordance with federal regulations to ensure that no such cargo is left on an unattended or unsecured train in the event of a work stoppage due to an impasse in labor negotiations," the Association of American Railroads announced in a press release.

Although the railroads and some unions have reached tentative labor contract agreements, those that have yet to settle on terms have until 12:01 a.m. Sept. 16. At that time, the 30-day cooling-off period that began when the Presidential Emergency Board issued its contract recommendations will expire. Per the Railway Labor Act, work stoppages cannot occur during the cooling-off period.

Freight-rail customers may start to experience delayed or suspended service during the week, as the railroads prepare for the possibility that current labor negotiations do not result in a resolution and are required to safely and securely reduce operations, AAR officials said.

For example, Norfolk Southern Railway announced it is enacting its contingency plan for a controlled shutdown of its network.

"This week, we are planning for the orderly lay down of trains in the bulk network to prepare for an efficient restart of normal operations. We plan to reach out to our customers moving bulk commodities in unit train service with specific operational details involving their shipments," NS officials said in a press release.

NS will close all gates to intermodal traffic tomorrow and enact an embargo of all automotive traffic on Wednesday.

Leaders of two major rail labor unions — the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and SMART-Transportation Division — called the railroads' embargoes an attempt to "extort a contract settlement" from the unions.

"This completely unnecessary attack on rail shippers by these highly profitable Class I railroads is no more than corporate extortion," wrote BLET President Dennis Pierce and SMART-TD President Jeremy Ferguson in a joint statement. "Our unions remain at the bargaining table and have given the rail carriers a proposal that we would be willing to submit to our members for ratification, but it is the rail carriers that refuse to reach an acceptable agreement."

Meanwhile, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association is calling on Congress to step in and avert a rail-system shutdown by immediately implementing the PEB recommendations.

"Put simply, a rail-system shutdown would be catastrophic for the U.S. economy, tens of thousands of businesses and tens of millions of consumers. It would spike inflation, cause industrial chaos and be a terrible result for everyone involved," ASLRRA President Chuck Baker wrote in a Sept. 10 letter to U.S. House and Senate leadership.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/12/2022