Impacts of Rail Strike Would Precede Walkout, Paring Congress’ Time to Act

A threatened rail strike could have widespread effects on agriculture, manufacturing and the rest of the nation’s economy days ahead of a walkout.

Congress must act sooner than the December 9 strike deadline since the railroads, for safety and convenience, will halt hazardous materials shipments like chlorine and ethanol and intercity passenger service days earlier.

And while President Biden has asked lawmakers to step in and adopt a tentative September deal rejected by several unions, Iowa U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley agrees pre-strike impacts are possible.

Grassley;; “I think we had some talk like that, back in September, and I think there were some actions taken by the railroads that were, that, in other words, I agree with you.”

The last time U.S. railroads went on strike was in 1992. That strike lasted two days before Congress intervened.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined the president’s urgent call for Congress to act and avert a “potentially crippling rail shutdown,” that Grassley fears will happen otherwise. Grassley; “It’s looking more and more like Congress is going to have to intervene to avoid a rail strike, and if we had a strike, it’d be very devastating to the economy, it’d be devastating to agriculture if we don’t pass something—or, if the president doesn’t step in, or unless the unions resolve it in their dispute. But there’s a feeling, that isn’t apt to happen.”

Resulting in shortages of everything from cereal and animal feed to ethanol and its byproducts, bringing higher food and fuel prices and hundreds of thousands of job losses unless Congress acts.

Agriculture groups welcome President Biden’s call on Congress to avert a potential rail worker strike. Corey Rosenbusch of The Fertilizer Institute praised the action by Biden, adding, “Congress must act now to ensure that fertilizers and other critical materials and goods that U.S. consumers rely on every day get to where they are needed.”

The Fertilizer Institute has been heavily engaged in efforts to avert a nationwide rail network shutdown and will continue to do so until the matter is resolved. The call from Biden followed a meeting with cabinet members on the issue.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack adds, “in this case – where the economic impact of a shutdown would hurt American agriculture and millions of other working people and families –Congress must use its powers to adopt this deal.” Vilsack joined President Biden in calling on Congress to quickly pass legislation adopting the Tentative Agreement between railroad workers and operators.

Following a meeting with President Biden at the White House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he and Senator Mitch McConnell will work together to approve an agreement as soon as possible after the House takes it up today. The deadline to reach a deal is coming up next week.

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