Baker to Congress: Be Ready to ‘Step In’ and Avert System ShutdownWritten by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) President Chuck Baker on Sept. 10 sent a letter to Congressional leadership outlining the impact of a freight rail strike on the U.S. transportation network and the economy and urged Congress to “immediately step in and avert a system shutdown by legislatively implementing Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) recommendations,” should a voluntary agreement not be reached by the end of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) mandated “cooling off’ period on Sept. 15.
In his letter, Baker stated that the U.S. freight rail network is a “crucial component of the global supply chain,” adding that “it is imperative Congress act to avoid severe and unnecessary national economic calamity.”
“Put simply, a rail system shutdown would be catastrophic for the U.S. economy, tens of thousands of businesses, and tens of millions of consumers,” Baker said. “It would spike inflation, cause industrial chaos, and be a terrible result for everyone involved.”
Baker added that he was “hopeful” there would be a voluntary agreement, calling the PEB recommendations, which include a 24% compounded raise over five years, plus $1,000 bonuses for each of the five years, “a win for rail labor.”
“Short lines are 100% committed to doing our part and more to provide excellent freight rail service, enable the success of our customers, and get the American freight transportation network back to peak reliability and efficiency, but any rail work stoppage in the U.S. or any further delay in getting a labor agreement completed helps no one,” Baker added.
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