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A rejected rail contract could lead to a strike and an economic blow in weeks, as negotiations continue

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — That deal could go off the rails as the U.S. nears a railroad strike that could cripple the economy. If a solution is not reached soon, Americans could see a strike in two weeks.

Time is closing in on a Dec. 8 deadline to avoid a major strike after another of the nation’s largest railroad unions narrowly rejected a White House-backed contract offer.

“It was a very close vote,” said Jeremy Ferguson, president of sheet metal, air, rail and trucking.

That’s how Ferguson described the latest attempt to approve a deal for railroad workers.

“The message is clear that we have friends who are divided on this issue,” Ferguson said.

Railroad workers spent months negotiating better working conditions, higher wages, increased sick pay and more flexible schedules.

“These are tough, demanding jobs, and the railroad made them tougher,” said Brotherhood of Locomotive and Railroad Engineers National President Dennis Pearce.

Pierce says his union voted to ratify their contract. But if one trade union goes on strike, all railway workers’ unions will go on strike together with it.

“Unions can obviously strike, but railroads can obviously lock out employees to motivate Congress. They’ve done it before,” Pierce said.

That would shut down the nation’s rail network ahead of the holiday shopping season, hurting the economy.

“We cannot afford a work stoppage in this country,” said Association of American Railroads CEO Ian Jeffries.

President Joe Biden says the White House is monitoring the situation, while Jeffries says he’s still pushing for a deal

“The goal is to reach a positive outcome with each of our 12 unions,” Jeffries said.

Jeffries says the talks could take turns and Congress could step in if a deal isn’t reached.


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