Washington, Sep 15 – The United States was left as of this Thursday without passenger trains operating on long-distance routes, fearing that a possible strike that begins on Friday would leave travelers stopped halfway before reaching their destinations.
The country’s main passenger rail operator, Amtrak, announced the decision in a statement, explaining that the same steps could be followed for other shorter-haul trains in the coming hours if the possibility of a strike does not disappear.
The curious thing is that Amtrak and its employees are not part of the labor dispute that could lead to a strike, but their trains use tracks that are owned by companies that are directly involved in the conflict and that would cease to be operational in the event of a strike.
US President Joe Biden is working around the clock to prevent a rail freight strike, which could cause further supply chain disruptions and negatively impact the economy.
The interruption in transport could begin this Friday if the railway companies do not reach an agreement on a new contract with two unions, which represent some 57,000 workers between drivers and engineers.
To prevent it, Biden is mediating between companies and unions and on Monday, while in Boston, he spoke by phone with both sides in an attempt to prevent the strike.
In parallel, the White House is making contingency plans so that the rail transportation of key products for the US economy continues through the air in cargo planes, by sea with ships and even in trucks on the country’s highways.
At the center of the dispute is the negotiation of a new contract, in which the workers want to include clauses that allow them to go to the doctor or respond to family emergencies without being penalized, as the current system does that does not include any sick days. according to the unions.
Friday concludes the so-called “reflection period” established by federal law, so that on that day employees could go on strike or companies could decree a forced stoppage, closing their facilities and preventing workers from returning to their jobs.
Faced with the possibility of this interruption of rail transport, some freight companies have begun to limit their services and have stopped transporting materials considered dangerous.