White House eyes use of emergency powers to keep key goods on rails - Bloomberg

Sep. 13, 2022 12:28 PM ETUnion Pacific Corporation (UNP)CNI, CP, CSX, NSC, BRK.A, BRK.BBy: Kevin P. Curran, SA News Editor43 Comments

Hauling the freight

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The White House is weighing the use of emergency powers to smooth the delivery of critical materials, according to Bloomberg.

Citing an anonymous White House official, the outlet said the prospect of halted deliveries of vital materials like chlorine for wastewater treatment plants, food and energy, amid a worker strike that has thrown supply chains into uncertainty. The administration is also reportedly working across multiple agencies to soften the blow of potential disruptions.

According to a joint statement from Jeremy Ferguson, President of the SMART Transportation Division and Dennis Pierce, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, major shippers have already been warned of an embargo “on certain types of new shipments five days in advance of the end of the federally mandated cooling-off period at 12:00 AM EDT September 16” by major railroad operators. While the unions indicated that the unions “remain at the bargaining table”, the rail carriers have yet to forward an acceptable agreement ahead of the looming deadline.

“It was abundantly clear from our negotiations over the past few days that the railroads show no intentions of reaching an agreement with our Unions, but they cannot legally lock out our members until the end of the cooling-off period,” the statement read. “Instead, they are locking out their customers beginning on [September 12] and further harming the supply chain in an effort to provoke congressional action.”

Meanwhile, the Association of American Railroads, which primarily represents the major freight railroads, said a shutdown could cost “at least $2B per day” in economic output. The association stressed the importance of an agreement while also touting a tentative agreement between the National Carriers’ Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents the nation’s freight railroads in national collective bargaining, and the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers, SEIU following recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board. The agreement adds to prior agreements with multiple unions at the end of August.

  • Related tickers: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) (BRK.B), CSX Corporation (CSX), Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP), Norfolk Southern (NSC), Canadian Pacific (CP), and Canadian National Railway (CNI)

Read more on union assessments of the Presidential Emergency Boards proposals to stem the dispute.

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