Looming rail worker strike could send US economy into a tailspin

BOSTON – One third of freight in the U.S is moved by train and a looming rail workers strike could send the country’s economy off the rails.

“We are going to see an impact much sooner than we would otherwise,” said Professor Nada Sanders who is a Northeastern University Supply Chain Expert.

Sanders says he the impending rail worker strike is already having an impact as companies that use the nations railways to ship products may soon be side-tracked with no way to ship products.

“A rail worker strike would be extremely damaging because it would halt and create this massive disruption in an already weakened supply chain,” said Sanders.

She tells Boston 25 that COVID disrupted the supply chain which has never fully recovered.

“We already have issues with the truck drivers and still have ports that are backed up in some cases,” said Sanders.

The products most impacted by a rail worker strike are bulk items like feed and fertilizer for farms and that can potentially drive up already high food prices at supermarkets.

Add in oil refineries who rely on trains to ship gas. That could also be halted pushing prices at pump which have been dropping back up again.

“The potential rail strike is going to exacerbate things because it’s not a finished product. We are moving components and bulk that are absolutely essential,” said Sanders.

Negotiations continue in Washington where Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is now involved in a last ditch effort with unions to get things back on track.

The White House is also urging a resolution. “We have made crystal clear to the interested parties the harm that American families, businesses and farmers, and communities would experience if they were not to reach a resolution,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House Press Secretary.

Congress can extend the negotiating period but it’s unclear if they’ll opt to do so. Amtrak which is not involved in the negotiations has already cancelled all long distance trains ahead of strike. However, trains along the Northeast Corridor – from Washington to Boston - are not expected to be impacted.

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