OMAHA, Neb. — Consumers could see higher gas prices and shortages of some of their favorite groceries during the winter holiday season if railroads and all of their unions can't agree on new contracts by an early-December deadline that had already been pushed back.
The likelihood of a strike that could paralyze the nation's rail traffic grew on Monday when the largest of the 12 rail unions, which represents mostly conductors, rejected management's latest offering that included 24% raises. With four of the 12 unions holding out for a better deal, it might fall to Congress to impose one to protect the U.S. economy.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association said a rail strike "would cause enormous disruption to the flow of goods nationwide," although retail stores are well stocked for the crucial holiday shopping season. It's not clear what a strike would mean for packages because FedEx and UPS, which both rely on rail to some degree, haven't commented in detail.