Potential Nationwide US Rail Strike May Spark Chaos Ahead Of Christmas

Remember in September when the country was on the brink of a nationwide rail strike that almost froze critical transportation networks? 

A similar scenario could be nearing as workers of major freight rail companies have yet to settle on a new contract. 

Twelve rail unions representing 115,000 workers must ratify a new contract to prevent an economically devastating strike by early December. If one union disagrees, all other unions must honor the labor action. 

So far, seven unions have voted to ratify the tentative agreement. Three other unions representing 60,000 workers have voted it down. And two of the largest unions, representing 60,000 locomotive engineers and train conductors, are voting on the deal. 

CNBC’s Lori Ann LaRocco said if the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), the two largest unions, “do not ratify the deal — they could start striking December 9th — following a mandatory cooling off period.” 

“As of right now, even if these two unions vote to ratify the deal, we’re still looking at a strike — why? — because three unions have already voted not to ratify the deal,” LaRocco said. 

Here’s more from LaRocco on the possibility of rail strikes next month. She said the first key date for investors to watch is a vote on Monday. 

American consumers and manufacturers could be greatly impacted if there was a strike, and it would behoove members of Congress to step in if there’s an impending sign of labor action to prevent a new crisis. 

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