White House urgently discusses contingency plans amid threat of railroad shutdown

White House urgently discusses contingency plans amid threat of railroad shutdown
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The White House is also urgently discussing its contingency plans railroad shutdown threat loomsThey are working with agencies across the federal government on how they can potentially use federal authority to keep critical supply chains operational as business negotiations. keep sitting in a stalemate.

Work has stepped up in recent days as officials are increasingly concerned about a workers’ strike if freight-rail worker talks fail to reach an agreement before Friday’s deadline. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that President Joe Biden personally called rail unions and companies while visiting Boston on Monday.

Authorities have been closely monitoring developments for several weeks and have stepped up planning efforts, while being directly involved in the effort to find a solution. and worst case scenario highlighted risks of an outcome that will lead to major supply chain disruptions and bilateral political and economic risk.

“The White House is working with other modes of transport (including freight forwarders, truckers, air freight) to step in and see how they can move goods if the railroad shuts down,” a White House official told CNN on Tuesday.

He added that management is “working with relevant agencies to assess which supply chains and commodities are most likely to face serious disruptions and that emergency authorities are in place to move goods.”

About 60,000 union members working for the railroad will go on strike, including the engineers and conductors who make up the two-man crew on each train. While the other 45,000 union members belong to unions that have reached tentative agreements with the railways, the engineers and conductors’ strike will bring the freight rail system, which carries around 30% of the country’s freight, to a standstill.

Stakeholders are already warning that the situation is dire, with the US Chamber of Commerce detailed in a letter to congressional leadership on Monday.

“The shutdown of the nation’s rail service will have enormous national consequences,” said Neil L. Bradley, chamber vice president and vice president of policy, in the letter.

“This will cause perishable foods such as dairy products, fruits and vegetables to deteriorate at their point of origin, halt Amtrak service for approximately 12.2 million passengers a day in 46 states, disrupt materials and goods shipped to factories and ports, and disrupt heating fuel and other essential fuels. “These are just a few examples of the damage done by closing the tracks.”

Biden continues to receive regular updates on the high-stakes negotiations, including briefings on the matter Monday evening and Tuesday morning. High-level talks were expected to continue on Tuesday. He said meetings with industry leaders, as well as “multi-agency meetings” are held daily with the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as the Departments of Transportation, Defense, Agriculture, Health and Human Services and Energy. identify the sectors and goods that will be most rapidly and significantly affected by a rail stoppage.”

A major area of ​​concern is dangerous goods transported by rail.

“We pay special attention to railroad hazardous materials to protect the safety of workers and communities, and to support the continued delivery of rail transport-derived vital hazardous materials, such as chlorine for water treatment plants,” the official said. “all tools will be on the table and appropriately distributed,” he added.

While anxiety about a strike has increased in the White House in recent days, the administration is hopeful that the problem will be resolved. The president has no power to prevent a strike, but Congress can still take action to prevent a business stoppage.

“We hope that this planning and preparation will be unnecessary and that the negotiating parties will agree on a solution and not allow American workers, families and businesses to be harmed by a railroad stop. In all our communications with the negotiating parties, a shutdown is unacceptable and will harm American workers, families and businesses. And we’ve made it clear that they need to take action to prevent it.”

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