By Greg Bishop | The Center Square
(The Center Square) – A strike of railroad workers could impact
Illinois more than other parts of the country.
Unions representing rail labor are split on a proposed labor
agreement, sparking the possibility of a nationwide strike as early
as next month.
Rail Workers United said in a statement Monday thousands of railroad
workers have not had a raise in three years and have continued to
“hold out for what they believe they deserve.”
“Without a better contract for all railroad crafts, service will
continue to suffer as rail carriers extract wealth and buy back
their shares at the expense of the economy as a whole,” the group
Employer associations from Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kentucky,
Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio sent Congressional leaders a
letter last week urging them to implement the Presidential Emergency
Illinois Manufacturers' Association President Mark Denzler said it’s
a rare ask, but the U.S. Congress should intervene.
“We’re down to two weeks,” Denzler told The Center Square. “If there
is no agreement, then Congress has the ability to step in and to
pass legislation implementing these recommendations and at that
point, labor under law has to follow these recommendations.”
A rail workers’ strike won’t just hurt the economy, it will hurt
families, he said.
“Given the sheer impact of what this would do to the U.S. economy
and American consumers, particularly at the end of harvest, during
the busiest shipping season that we have in the United States, the
harm would be just absolutely horrible for our country.”
He said Illinois would be heavily impacted as the only state with
all seven Class 1 railroads in the heart of the country.
“Guess what, if the trains aren’t rolling, the trucks aren’t
rolling, so you’re having an impact on the truck drivers that can’t
move product, and so it trickles down,” Denzler said.
If an agreement isn’t reached, a strike could happen as early as the
first week of December.
Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other
issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning
broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of