Hundreds of retail, manufacturing, transportation and agricultural groups called on the Biden administration Wednesday to facilitate an agreement between railroads and their unions to prevent the potential shutdown of the nation’s freight rail system.
Over 300 state and national trade associations signed on to a letter asking the president to help ensure that labor contracts brokered by the administration are now ratified by the parties. The letter comes a day after a second union rejected its agreement over insufficient paid sick leave, reigniting fears of a strike or lockout.
“It is paramount that these contracts now be ratified, as a rail shutdown would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and lead to further inflationary pressure,” read the letter, signed by groups including the National Retail Federation and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Railroads handle roughly 28% of all U.S. freight movement by ton-miles according to the Federal Railroad Administration, and shippers of chemicals, food and other bulk commodities tend to be more reliant on the mode.
Executives with Olin Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of chemical products, said Wednesday that a rail shutdown would have a catastrophic effect on operations.
“I mean if that rail strike really occurred, I would just say that it's equivalent to the mother of all hurricanes that we've ever experienced,” said President and CEO Scott Sutton on a third quarter earnings call.