US chemical group lauds deal to avert nationwide rail strike

02 December 2011 21:51  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The American Chemistry Council (ACC) on Friday lauded an agreement that would avert a nationwide rail strike.

The agreement between railroad operators and unions was reached on Thursday, averting a rail strike that could have begun on 6 December.

“We're glad that the rail labour unions and the railroad industry have reached an agreement that will allow ACC's members to continue to meet the needs of their customers and the nation," the ACC said, adding that trains in the US deliver 170m tons/year of chemicals.

Association of American Railroads (AAR) president and CEO Edward Hamberger said an agreement was reached with two unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association.

Twelve out of 13 rail unions have settled with the railroads, the AAR said.

The railroads also agreed to extend negotiations with the last of its unsettled rail unions, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees.

“The goal of the nation’s freight railroads, from the start of bargaining almost two years ago, has been to reach voluntary settlements with all of its rail unions,” Hamberger said. “These agreements bring the industry closer to achieving that goal.”

The unions and the National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), which represents the major US railroads, had a 5 December deadline to reach an agreement.

At midnight on Monday, 5 December, a 60-day presidential hold on unions’ right to strike is scheduled to expire.

In early October, President Barack Obama established a presidential emergency board (PEB) to mediate in the talks between the NRLC and the 13 unions.

In anticipation of a possible nationwide rail strike – which would essentially shut down US commerce – congressional leaders said on Tuesday that they would rush legislation through the House in order to block a strike.

Additional reporting by Joe Kamalick

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