If you believe railroads do not count much anymore in the American economy, you need to rethink your thought. For a major automotive company, I was coordinating shipments to and from Asia via container, rail, and ocean. It was not that hard if you understood the lead times, customs, shipping and rail, and the bottlenecks.
Typically we would pick up or ship out of Long Beach or LA. Coming in to us would arrive by rail with the bottleneck being Chicago. Plan 5-6 weeks to get a shipment out of China, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, etc. Customs can be fast if you use a forwarder.
With rail on strike, those shipments would pile up in the ports. Not enough truckers to haul them over the mountains.
Railroads running many more rains with twice the numbers of cars and containers double stack claim Labor does not make them any money. They have gone from 5 to 2 men per train and are hoping to go to one man per train. That does not make sense to me (more on this later).
According to the Presidential Emergency Board, which analyzed the dispute,
“the Carriers maintain that capital investment and risk are the reasons for their profits, not any contributions by labor.”
Labor is not costing any more money either as they have not had an increase in three years. President Biden actually thwarted a strike having run interference for the unions(s).
Mark Huffman at Consumer Affairs writes . . . “Rail lines and unions head off a potentially devastating strike.”
The U.S. economy dodged a pretty big bullet. Time running out before a nationwide rail workers strike. Railroads and unions reached a tentative settlement in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Economists warned that a shutdown of the nation’s freight lines would make inflation even worse, interrupting supply chains that are only now getting back to normal. Rail lines are a primary means of transporting everything from oil to packages for UPS.
Leaders of several industries voiced concern about a potential strike, saying a work stoppage of only a few days would create chaos. The tentative agreement heading off the strike was reached in Washington, where the two sides gathered for final negotiations.
“Following 20 consecutive hours of negotiations at the Department of Labor, rail companies and union negotiators came to a tentative agreement that balances the needs of workers, businesses and our nation’s economy,” the Labor Department said in a statement. “Our rail system is integral to our supply chain, and a disruption would have had catastrophic impacts on industries, travelers and families across the country.”
“Rail lines and unions head off a potentially devastating strike,” (consumeraffairs.com), Mark Huffman
“Ocean Freight: Ocean & Sea Freight Rates 2022″ | Freightos
“Rail Strike By The Numbers: Railroad Profits Are Soaring at Workers’ Expense,” (perfectunion.us), Eric Gardner