A potential logistical and economic crisis is looming in the United States if the nation’s freight railroad workers go on strike in the next couple of days.
Freight rail carries about 30% of U.S. goods into the market. A work stoppage would disrupt already strained supply chains.
One estimate says a walkout could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day.
For many Americans, this could not come at a worse time, given the fragile state of the U.S. economy. Prices for basic goods are rising and inflation is still near a 40-year high.
Labor unions and rail companies have been unable to resolve their contract differences over issues of pay and sick leave.
Negotiations are still on-going as both sides search for a solution.
However, time is running out before a Friday deadline.
The White House has been pressing rail carriers and unions to resolve their differences.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says, “All parties need to stay at the table, bargain in good faith to resolve outstanding issues and
come to an agreement.”
Passenger trains in the U.S. often run on tracks owned and operated by freight carriers.
Railway giant Amtrak has already taken steps to prepare passengers for a possible disruption. It has cancelled all long-distance routes.
A strike of this magnitude could derail cargo, food and gas supplies, as freight trains are heavily relied on for transportation.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has greatly affected the world’s economy, but a domestic issue like a potential U.S. railroad strike may only add fuel to the volatile macroeconomy.