Pressure mounts on U.S. railroads, unions to reach a deal
OMAHA , Neb. (AP) - Freight railroads and their unions are facing increasing pressure from business groups and the White House to settle their contract dispute.
They face a looming strike deadline on Friday and business groups say a stoppage halting deliveries of raw materials and finished products that so many companies rely on would be an economic disaster.
The railroads have announced eight of the 13 deals they need to avert a strike, but two key unions representing conductors and engineers want the railroads to go beyond the 24% raises they are offering to address their concerns about working conditions.
The key issues holding up a deal between the national railway labor conference and a couple of the big unions include attendance policies and increased workloads.
Union Pacific confirms it will go ahead with plans to secure hazardous and sensitive materials on rail cars as of Monday, some of which are ingredients used to make fertilizer.
The major rail companies including Union Pacific, Burlington-Northern, Norfolk-Southern, and others say they do not want such cargo winding up stuck unattended on the tracks in the event of a possible work stoppage on Friday.
Business experts warn that a strike Friday by rail workers would make supply chain issues even worse. Farmers could see their grain storage facilities overflowing as roughly one-third of grain exports travel by train.
A worker strike could affect the price of bread and other groceries as a result.
Railroad workers are under a different labor law than the one that controls labor relations at most businesses; that means it’s possible Congress could act to prevent or quickly stop a strike.
6 News Anchor Craig Nigrelli contributed to this report.
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