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NAW, NAM Call for Quick Resolution to Rail Negotiations

NAW, NAM Call for Quick Resolution to Rail Negotiations

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Business and government officials are bracing for the possibility of a nationwide rail strike at the end of this week while talks carry on between the largest U.S. freight railroads and their unions. The railroads have already started to curtail shipments of hazardous materials and refrigerated products ahead of Friday’s strike deadline. Businesses that rely on railroads to deliver their raw materials and finished products have started planning for the worst. Meanwhile, Biden administration officials are scrambling to develop a plan to use trucks, ships, and planes to try to get the most crucial shipments delivered. But the White House is also keeping the pressure up on both sides to settle their differences.

(NAW) — The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), which represents the voice of the 7.4 trillion-dollar distribution industry, and employs more than 5 million U.S. workers, issued the following statement in response to the impending freight rail strike:

“President Biden has proclaimed himself ‘the most pro-union President you’ve ever seen,’ and he (along with his cabinet officials) has personally intervened in attempting to broker an agreement between the nation’s largest railway carriers and the 12 unions representing the rail workers. Unfortunately, even as the rail carriers agreed to a highly generous 14.1% immediate wage increase (with a total increase of 24% by 2024) and significant increases to the union’s already robust benefits, the package still is not enough to prevent the rail workers union from threatening a strike that would cost the US economy more than $2 billion a day,” said Seth M. Waugh, NAW Vice President, Government Relations.

“This approach by the unions will cause less stability to the individuals, businesses, and local municipalities who depend on their services and is causing delays in delivering critical and life-saving products across the United States. At the same time, union bosses are actively lobbying Congress to support the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act – a radical wishlist of labor policies that attempts to increase union membership at any cost while strengthening their hand at the bargaining table without regard to the damage the bill would do to the economy.  It is time for labor bosses to come to the table in good faith to help our nation, rather than trying to help themselves,” concluded Waugh.

(NAM) — Following news that White House aides and Cabinet officials spent Tuesday reviewing contingency plans for a work stoppage, including outreach to shippers, truckers and air-freight lines to keep goods moving, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement on the ongoing negotiations between Class I railroads and labor unions representing the freight rail workforce:

“For years now, America’s manufacturing workers have endured the effects of rapidly rising material costs and severe supply chain disruptions, and our member surveys have shown quarter after quarter that these are among the top challenges affecting manufacturing growth in America. Further delays in concluding the rail negotiations will exacerbate the pain of inflation and supply chain disruptions, and failing to reach an agreement before Friday’s deadline would devastate the movement of manufactured products that families depend on,” said Timmons. “The Presidential Emergency Board has announced reasonable recommendations that nearly all parties have accepted, so now is the time to resolve remaining issues. We appreciate the administration’s proactive approach, and Congress should be ready to act as a last resort. But manufacturers still believe that the parties have it within their power to resolve these talks before they inflict severe economic damage.”

Currently, the American freight rail network accounts for nearly 40% of total freight volume, and a strike or delay in finalizing a long-term contract would have devastating impacts across surface supply chain networks and economic output. The Association of American Railroads recently released a report that found a nationwide freight rail interruption could cost more than $2 billion per day in lost economic activity.

Background: On Monday, Sept. 12, the NAM sent a letter to congressional leaders reiterating support for the work of the Presidential Emergency Board, which has aided in the talks. The NAM also urged Congress to use its statutory authority to institute the PEB’s recommendations should it become necessary to intervene. The NAM supported President Biden’s selection of an independent and objective PEB and believes that the recommendations announced on Aug. 16 have provided an appropriate framework to avoid disruption to freight rail operations.

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