Food Businesses Warn Congress Against Consequences Of Looming Rail Strike

When it comes to transporting food around the country, railroads are an invaluable resource. Unfortunately, things are getting tricky. PBS NewsHour reports that due to the possibility of a rail strike, the shipment of consumer goods could soon be affected, as four rail unions have now failed to approve contracts. The unions are demanding better schedules, as well as paid sick time. While the strike has yet to officially start, it could begin as early as December 5 — right at the start of the holiday season.

The last railroad strike took place three decades ago in 1992 and only lasted for two days before Congress intervened. To prevent a strike in 2022, food businesses have signed off on a letter encouraging Congress to take early action with the unions. Though some goods could be transported across the nation via truck, PBS NewsHour reports that there are not enough available vehicles to replace all railway deliveries during the strike.

A railroad strike could seriously impact consumers

If a strike does happen, consumers may feel its effects quickly and dramatically. As many as 6,300 rail cars of food and farm products are caught up in the impending rail strike, according to Food Business News. Many businesses rely on railway transportation to distribute goods around the country. Some of the affected items include food, water, fertilizer, and chlorine. The disruption could cost an estimated $2 billion per day, business owners argue, creating a considerable and negative impact on the U.S. economy. The delays could also cause supply chain issues, leaving shoppers seriously frustrated as the holiday season approaches. 

Of course, if people are planning to travel by train home for the holidays, they may need to amend their travel plans. That's because up to 7 million Amtrak travelers could experience disruptions every day of a potential strike, according to a letter sent to Congress by more than 400 businesses worried about the impacts on ingredients as varied and common as meat, corn, and wheat (via Food Business News). The letter further states that since Congress has stepped in during prior looming strikes, it should take action again to prevent a potentially devastating economic impact.