How would railroad strike affect us?

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 5:22 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - More than 400 business groups are calling on Congress to prevent a railroad workers’ strike because of the economic destruction they say it would cause. This is a nationwide issue that would be felt in the north country.

Trains haul soybeans, corn, and grain which are used in things like cooking oil, flour and hygiene products.

If trains stop running because of a strike, it could be hard to find these items in a store.

There’s a December 9 deadline for 12 national railroad unions to sign a new contract. The unions say all 12 need to pass it or else they all could strike over issues like paid time off and raises.

This worries Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay Matteson who says 30 to 40% of food people buy is shipped by rail.

“If we don’t have rail available, then how does the food get to the consumer? That’s going to drive up prices and it will have an impact on the availability of food,” he said.

If workers strike, Matteson says shortages will show up in weeks and it’ll take even longer to get things back on track once the strike is over.

“It’s major. It’s more than just Christmas presents under the tree. It’s the food that people are going to put on their table. It’ll drive up cost. It’ll drive up cost of transportation, and it will impact the availability of food products to the American consumer,” he said.

It’s not just the consumer who will be affected, Matteson says. Afgritech, based in Watertown, supplies protein-rich feed to north country farmers. It too would see a hit if there’s a strike.

“If there’s a rail strike, obviously it’s going to cause our inputs to go up in cost because you’re going to have 3 trucks for every railroad cargo you have,” said Les Berghorn, Afgritech general manager.

As of now 8 out of the 12 railroad unions have agreed to the proposed agreement. Four have not.