railroad tracks
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Travel Alert September 2022: Possible Freight Railroad Strike Causes Amtrak to Cancel All Long Distance Train Routes

This industrial action could possibly go off the rails...

All long distance train routes which are operated by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation — which does business under the name Amtrak — have been suspended until further notice effective immediately, Thursday, September 15, 2022 in anticipation of what could possible be the first national railroad strike in the United States in 30 years.

Travel Alert September 2022: Possible Freight Railroad Strike Causes Amtrak to Cancel All Long Distance Train Routes

railroad trestle bridge
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

This notice is currently displayed at the official Internet web site of Amtrak at the time this article was written:

Amtrak is closely monitoring ongoing freight rail management — labor contract negotiations. While these negotiations do not involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce, many of our trains operate over freight railroad tracks. Because the parties have not yet reached a resolution, Amtrak has begun to make initial service adjustments in response to a possible freight railroad service interruption that could occur later this week. If your train is canceled, we will attempt to notify you at least 24 hours in advance at the contact information you provided when making a reservation — as well as offer the opportunity to receive a full refund.

Note: In the Northeast, between Boston, New York and Washington there will be no impact to Acela, and only minimal changes are expected to Northeast Regional services. In addition, Empire Service between New York and Albany; Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg; the Amtrak Hartford Line between New Haven and Springfield, MA; and the Downeaster between Boston and Brunswick, ME will not be impacted.

The railroad freight industry and two key unions remained at an impasse in contract negotiations — and if no settlement is reached, the strike will begin tomorrow, Friday, September 16, 2022.

Approximately 4,900 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 voted to reject the tentative agreement negotiated by its leadership with the railroads. This open letter from Kyle K. Loos — who is both the president and directing general chairman of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 — is replicated in its entirety:

“I want to thank everyone who participated in the National Contract ratification and strike vote. The electronic voting was a success and allowed more access to the membership.

“The voting has concluded, and the results are in. The Tentative Agreement has been rejected and the strike authorization vote was approved.

“I also want to inform you that out of respect for the other Unions in the ratification process an extension has been agreed to until September 29, 2022 at 12 p.m. ET. This extension will allow us to continue to negotiate changes with the NCCC in hopes of achieving an agreement that the membership could ratify.”

Two unions have ratified agreements; while three other unions remained at the bargaining table just days ahead of the aforementioned strike deadline.

Final Boarding Call

11Foot8 bridge railroad crossing
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

If you thought that the possibility of national strikes were only occurring outside of the United States — and if you believe that this potential industrial action will not affect you — think again.

Even if you do not travel as a passenger aboard a train which is operated by Amtrak and you live in the United States, you will likely be affected, as freight trains carry the goods we need on which to live. This could significantly exacerbate the supply chain, which has already been adversely disrupted due to a confluence of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, a shortage of materials, a scarcity of labor, and inflation — among other factors — which could lead to higher prices on products.

Hopefully, the impact will not be dire…

…or better yet, hopefully an agreement will be reached that will be as satisfactory as possible to all concerned parties.

All photographs ©2018 and ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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