By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews)
Source: Amtrak (Information)
United States of America: Amtrak will begin on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 to cancel all of their long distance passenger train routes until further notice due to potential railroad strike which is set to begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, September 16th, 2022.
While itself not involved in the union negotiations, Amtrak said that its passenger trains travel on 21,000 miles of track throughout the midwest and western portion of the United States; nearly all of which is owned, maintained, and controlled by freight railroads, and a freight rail worker strike would “significantly impact intercity passenger rail service.”
On Tuesday, September 13th, 2022, Amtrak said that departures for the Southwest Chief, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, and a portion of the Texas Eagle routes have all been pre-emptively canceled in order to avoid passenger disruptions.
Amtrak announced on Wednesday, September 14th, 2022 that they have canceled departures on the City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Silver Star, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle routes, and that departures along the Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, and Palmetto routes will also been canceled starting on Thursday, September 15th, 2022.
If freight rail carriers do not reach a resolution with two major worker unions, Amtrak said shorter state-supported routes could also be canceled this week.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief services communities such as Barstow, California, Downtown Needles, California and Downtown Kingman, Arizona during the overnight hours with hundreds of people just along the high desert communities throughout the year using Amtrak to get to destinations to the east and west, including people using the El Garces Train Depot in Downtown Needles, California to get on board the Amtrak passenger train.
ZachNews has not received any comments from officials at the City of Needles regarding the cancellation of Amtrak passenger trains service or about the potential railroad strike.
Amtrak said that they are reaching out to customers with tickets on the canceled routes, and will allow them to change their reservation or to receive a full refund without cancellation fees.
If a customer changes to another travel date, Amtrak said it will waive any difference in fares for departures through Monday, October 31st, 2022.
Customers can reach Amtrak by calling: 1 (800) 872-7245.
Railroad workers are preparing to strike for higher pay, more generous paid leave, and a renegotiation of strict attendance policies and broader working conditions.
Railroads are trying to reach an agreement with all their other unions to avert a railroad strike before Friday’s deadline.
The unions aren’t allowed to strike before Friday under the federal law that governs railroad contract talks, which include BNSF, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, CSX, Kansas City Southern and the U.S. operations of Canadian National.
The unions, including Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division Union and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Union, are demanding that CSX, Union Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, Kansas City Southern and the other railroads go beyond the proposed deal recommended by a group of arbitrators United States President Joe Biden appointed, and want the railroads to address concerns about strict attendance policies that they say make it hard to take any time off and increasing workloads after the railroads cut nearly one-third of the railroad workforces in recent years which workers say have made a difficult job even harder.
There are 12 unions, including one with two separate divisions, representing 115,000 workers that must agree to the tentative deals and then have members vote on whether to approve them.
At this moment, reportedly 9 unions had agreed to tentative deals and three others are still at the bargaining table, and of the 9 unions that agreed to the deals, 2 unions – the Transportation Communications Union and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen unions – voted to ratify their contracts, but on Wednesday, members of one union rejected a tentative deal with the largest U.S. freight railroads, while two ratified agreements and three others remained at the bargaining table just days ahead of a strike deadline.
About 4,900 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 voted to reject the tentative agreement negotiated by IAM leadership with the railroads, but the IAM agreed to delay any strike by its members until September 29th, 2022 to allow more time for negotiations and to allow other unions to vote.
Talks between the unions and railroads continue into the late night hours on Wednesday trying to agree on a contract that would avert a railroad strike.
If the 2 sides – the unions and railroads – can’t agree on a deal by Friday, the United States Congress could step in to block the railroad strike and impose terms on the railroads and unions, but it’s unclear how quickly they could or would act because as of Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans can’t readily agree on a solution.
The White House said United States President Joe Biden and members of his Cabinet continue to be in touch with both sides in order to avert a railroad strike.
If the railroad strike does occur, the impact will be widespread, especially those who rely on the railroad to move and deliver raw materials, finished products including vehicles, hauling fertilizer and other agricultural products, and even packages.
Last week, the Association of American Railroads trade group put out a report estimating that the economy the strike would take a $2 billion a day hit if the trains stop moving and passenger traffic would be disrupted nationwide because Amtrak and many commuter railroads use tracks owned by the freight railroads.
Well the clock is ticking away before the start of the railroad strike on Friday, the mood of concern and worry is present in this small railroad desert community; many people are concerned and worried how this railroad strike will affect the workers’ lives and their families, and how this will affect their community.
Many people living in Needles, California hope that the issues being raised by railroad workers get resolve before a railroad strike begins, but if a railroad strike occurs, support for all railroad workers is present in the community.
We will find out what happens on Friday, stay tuned.