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Rail News: Labor

Rail shippers call on Biden to help Class Is, unions settle contract dispute

The coalition represents American agriculturists, manufacturers, refiners and energy producers.
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A coalition of rail shippers is calling on President Joe Biden to establish a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to help the nation's largest railroads and rail labor groups reach a contract settlement.

In a July 1 letter sent to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the coalition's representatives expressed concern that without presidential involvement, the stalemate between the railroads and unions could result in a labor strike that would further exacerbate ongoing supply-chain challenges. The coalition represents American agriculture producers, as well as manufacturers, refiners and energy producers.

"As was highlighted by numerous rail shippers in a two-day Surface Transportation Board hearing this past May, the rail network is currently experiencing significant service disruptions. An additional disruption of rail service related to a labor dispute would push an already stressed rail network to the brink and have direct and immediate as well as cascading impacts on the nation’s food, energy, and other vital industrial and consumer supplies and costs," the letter states.

The letter follows the National Mediation Board's recent decision to end the mediation process between the Class Is and major rail unions, which present 115,000 employees.

"Our associations join with others in calling for the appointment of a PEB to conduct hearings and issue settlement recommendations in a timely fashion," the letter states.

A PEB's recommendations are nonbinding. However, "history has demonstrated that the parties have previously entered into voluntary agreements as a direct result of the employment of this process in prior instances of labor/management negotiations," the groups noted.

Signing the letter were the CEOs of the American Chemistry Council, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Chemical Distributors, National Grain and Feed Association and The Fertilizer Institute.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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