Vice President, Transportation, Infrastructure, and Supply Chain Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
September 14, 2022
If an agreement is not reached by the nation’s six largest freight railroads and remaining unions in the next two days, our nation’s railroads will shut down, causing national economic consequences.
Businesses are already seeing delays and suspensions in service as the railroads prepare their networks for a potential strike.
A shutdown of the nation’s rail service would have enormous impacts to the economy, costing more than $2 billion per day. U.S. consumers would be heavily impacted as well:
- Disruptions to Amtrak service will impact approximately 12.2 million daily riders in 46 states.
- Everyday there are approximately 205 rail cars full of meat and poultry moving across this country to ensure store shelves are stocked.
- There are around 6,300 railcars of food and farm products, and a single loaded railcar contains enough wheat for 260,000 loaves of bread.
- A significant reduction in the supply of chlorine for the purpose of water treatment, which could further result in community rationing of clean water.
- More than 2,000 carloads carry 75% of all newly finished automobiles. Automakers rely on rail service to transport inventory, and an interruption in rail service would quickly disrupt auto production.
To avoid a strike and the catastrophic economic impacts that would follow, one of three things needs to happen:
- The remaining unions who have not agreed to a deal need to join the ones who have;
- An agreement to extend the current ‘cooling off’ period must be reached;
- Or Congress intervenes, as it has in prior situations.
The Chamber is calling for immediate action. We sent a letter to Congress urging them take immediate action and implement the recommendations of President Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board if the railroads and unions are unable to come to a voluntary agreement.
Further data can be found by visiting the Association of American Railroads.
About the authors
John Drake is responsible for representing the business community on transportation, infrastructure, and supply chain issues before Congress, the administration, the media, the business community, and other stakeholders.