NRF: Congress Must Take Action to Avert Catastrophic Rail Strike
National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay said a nationwide rail strike during the peak holiday season will be “devastating” for American businesses, consumers and the U.S. economy — particularly amid today’s increased prices due to persistent inflation.
Shay's statement was made yesterday when members of the nation’s largest rail union rejected a contract agreement with freight rail management that had been brokered by the White House among the labor unions and freight railroads. The vote raises the possibility of a strike in the coming weeks that could seriously damage the U.S. economy.
"Millions of hardworking Americans rely on the freight rail system for their jobs and the economic security of our country," said Shay. He added that American businesses and families are already facing increased prices due to inflation, and a rail strike will create greater inflationary pressures and will threaten business resiliency.
"Congress must intervene immediately to avoid a rail strike and a catastrophic shutdown of the freight rail system," continued Shay.
Total Retails' Take: U.S. businesses and consumers should be concerned about a looming rail strike. According to a September report from the Association of American Railroads, which represents major carriers, a nationwide rail shutdown could halt nearly 7,000 freight trains and cost more than $2 billion a day. Freight railroads are responsible for carrying 40 percent of the nation's long-haul freight. While currently eight of the 12 railroad unions have ratified the agreement, four have rejected it. And even if one of the 12 unions were to go on strike, the other unions would honor the picket lines and thus shut down the railroads.
“The parties must work out the issues and ratify the contract without a disruption to the system,” said Shay. “If not, Congress must step in to prevent a strike before the end of the cooling off period on Dec. 8.”