Railroad Contract Talks

FILE - This April 2, 2021, file photo shows freight train cars and containers at Norfolk Southern Railroad's Conway Yard in Conway, Pa. Railroad engineers accepted their deal with the railroads that will deliver 24% raises but conductors rejected the contract casting more doubt on whether the industry will be able to resolve the labor dispute before next month’s deadline without Congress’ help. The votes, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022, by the two biggest railroad unions follows the decision by three other unions to reject their deals with the railroads that the Biden administration helped broker before the original strike deadline in September. 

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.

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