Rail Strike Timeline: How did we get here and what was the result?
Within a week, labor unions and rail carriers reached a new contract agreement, averting a national strike. It would have had a major impact on agriculture.
Monday, September 12th
10 out of 12 rail labor unions reached tentative agreements with carriers with fears that fertilizer supply & prices might be an issue again. They threatened to strike Friday at 12:01 AM if they did not get a raise and sick leave.
Soy Transportation Coalition’s Mike Steenhoek said it would be very detrimental to the ag industry.
Wednesday, September 14th
The potential of a rail strike starts to grab the attention of Congress. Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska told her colleagues a strike will take the possibility of a good harvest out the window after farmers are already grappling with an expensive season, saying, “The consequences would be devastating. When agricultural products can’t be transported, there will be price hikes and shortages.”
Rail companies say they will start halting crop shipments on Thursday. BNSF started to deny exports of refrigerated items.
American Farm Bureau President, Zippy Duvall also gave his thoughts on the possibility of a strike, saying a strike should be avoided at all costs.
“An extended rail strike would have cascading effects on farmers and ranchers, and the best solution for agriculture and the U.S. economy is to avoid a strike entirely. A rail strike now would reverse the supply chain improvements achieved in the past year and make it more difficult for U.S. farmers and ranchers to address rising global food insecurity,” said Duvall.
Later that day, railroads and unions committed to continuing negotiating to try to reach a contract, according to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.
Thursday, September 15th
The White House announces labor unions and rail carriers reached an agreement to avoid a national rail strike.
The tentative agreement provides 24 percent pay increases over five years from 2020 through 2024. That includes immediate payouts of $11,000 upon signing the deal. President Biden calls it a win for tens of thousands of rail workers
National Grain & Feed Association’s Max Fisher says the reached agreement is extremely welcome news.
“It means everything. We would’ve had to shut down. It wouldn’t have been long until the feed and grain industry would follow suit and shut down as well,” said Fisher.