Transportation

Wholesalers implore Congress to intervene, prevent rail strike

Associated Press/Charlie Riedel
Workers walk along the tracks at an intermodal facility as the sun sets Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 in Edgerton, Kan. The facility, operated by BNSF railway, transfers shipping containers between rail cars to trucks. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A national organization representing wholesalers is asking Congress to intervene in a pending rail strike that could disrupt supply lines for essential goods. 

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) announced Wednesday that it signed on to a letter to urge Congress to take action to prevent the strike for rail workers, which would stop the transportation of food, fuel and other goods, likely causing prices to rise. 

NAW CEO Eric Hoplin said in a release the association calls on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the rest of Congress to use their authority to require that the labor unions and railroads agree to the recommendations that a presidentially appointed board proposed last month. 

Republican senators have introduced a resolution to put a new contract in place if negotiations between the parties fail, and Democrats have said they would approve legislation to prevent a railroad shutdown if necessary. 

Hoplin said the group is asking labor unions to reach a deal with railroads to keep the supply chain open and avoid “unnecessary” damage to the economy. 

“A rail strike would be a supply chain disaster for the entire wholesale-distribution industry and devastating to our nation and our citizens,” he said. 

More than 115,000 rail workers will be legally allowed to strike as of Friday, and almost 5,000 workers at the International Association of Machinists became the first union to reject a contract based on the board’s proposals and approve a strike on Wednesday. 

An Amtrak spokesperson confirmed that it is canceling all long-distance trains starting on Thursday ahead of the potential strike. They said adjustments could soon extend to other routes. 

Many Amtrak trains run on railroads that would shut down if a rail worker strike occurs, but Amtrak is not involved in the contract negotiations.

Tags Amtrak Charles Schumer Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Chuck Schumer labor dispute Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors rail strike rail worker strike strike

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