Negotiators from rail carriers and unions met at Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s office on Wednesday as the sides tried to negotiate a deal before Friday’s strike deadline.
The meeting started just after 9 a.m. ET.
The railroads, for their part, “have no plans to ban workers on Friday if negotiations cannot be completed successfully,” the Association of American Railroads told CNBC.
Dennis Pierce, the union’s top negotiator, said members had warned 10% of the workforce could leave if issues were not resolved by the deadline. Sick time policies and quality of life concerns are biggest sticking point remaining.
Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said: “Our no-wage offer leaves them with no money. It’s something they can manage. It doesn’t harm their business model. them,” said Pierce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, or BLT. “Railway companies need to start treating employees like people, instead of imposing policies that are just pushing people out of the industry.”
Eight of the 12 rail unions had reached tentative agreements with the companies earlier this week, but two of the largest unions, the BLT and the SMART Transportation Division, are still talking with the companies. transportation. The two groups represent about half of the union’s railroad workers.
The so-called cool-down period, which allows both sides to resume negotiations, ends at midnight on Friday, meaning a strike could happen early in the morning. In anticipation of a strike, the railroads began diverting freight.
Walsh’s involvement comes as Biden administration prepare for layoffs. A strike, which could affect about 60,000 workers and more than 7,000 train lines, could cost the US economy more than $2 billion a day.
In an email to members, the US National Association of Customs Forwarders & Brokers listed closing times. CNBC has compiled a list of just a few of the railroad’s changes ahead of time:
- Wednesday: BNSF, owned by Berkshire Hathawaystop moving refrigeration equipment into domestic facilities
- Wednesday: Norfolk Southern stops accepting exports
- Thursday: Sun stops receiving export goods
Norfolk Southern and other railroads ramped up freight in anticipation of a strike to move materials with important hazmat properties, such as chlorine and ethanol. This charge takes precedence over the regular fee.
But NS told CNBC it has changed some of its plans to accommodate more conventional goods.
“We continue to provide as much flexibility as possible to our customers for as long as they can,” a spokesman for the railways department told CNBC on Wednesday. “We have extended the time to accept trucks bringing containers into our land terminal until 5pm this afternoon.”
Initially, NS planned to stop receiving containers on Tuesday.
According to CNBC, recovery from the disruption caused by the strike could take weeks, if not months.
“The delivery of oversized transformers for transmission and distribution, natural gas turbines and generators, as well as renewable technology such as tower sections and blades,” said Marco Poisler, COO of UTC Abroad. wind, dependent on the U.S. rail system,” Marco Poisler, UTC Overseas COO, warned of “excessive delays” to deliveries.
“Transporting such cargo takes months of planning and rail engineering resources to identify the dedicated rail assets available with the right shaft width and deck height to accommodate,” says Poisler. achieve rail ventilation,” says Poisler.