Tip Sheets

Failure to prevent rail strike could be ‘catastrophic’ for US business

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub

The looming possibility of a national railroad strike has businesses nationwide concerned.

Arthur Wheaton, expert on transportation industries – including trains, plans and automobiles – and director of labor studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says a rail strike by freight railroad workers on Friday would impose serious consequences and could hurt almost all U.S. business sectors in a short amount of time.

Arthur Wheaton

Director of Labor Studies, ILR School

“The rail strike would be very problematic for the supply chain. Billions of dollars of goods are shipped via rail. A strike could hurt almost every sector of business in the U.S. in a short amount of time.

“One of the major sticking points in negotiations this time is having at least two conductors for the crew. It is very much a safety issue for all the communities that the trains travel through.

“Cargo containers frequently are shipped via cargo ship, then loaded onto trains and finally shipped via semi-truck. Truck drivers would be severely impacted by a rail strike as would the docks being unloaded with no space to store them.

“Strikes are part of the collective bargaining process, but they do have serious consequences. That is why employers frequently end up paying more than they want because failure to prevent the strike is catastrophic.”

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