Railroad Strikes May Exacerbate Truck Capacity, ATA Exclaims
We have written about railroad strikes before, but we have not yet discussed in detail to what extent it would impact the trucking industry. Chris Spear of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has an idea of what it would be.
Trucking and railroad are invariably intertwined: oftentimes a railroad will cover the majority of the distance for a good, and trucks would do the rest.
In a letter to Congress, Chris Spear writes that having trucks take over delivery for freight trains will prove to be catastrophic for a recovering economy.
“Idling all 7,000 long distance daily freight trains in the U.S. would require more than 460,000 additional long-haul trucks every day, which is not possible based on equipment availability and an existing shortage of 80,000 drivers. As such, any rail service disruption will create havoc in the supply chain and fuel inflationary pressures across the board,” he writes.
The logistical nightmare of having trucks cover for the railroads goes far beyond any “trucker shortage”: backlogs for the production of new trucks and trailers are already enormous, meaning there is simply no way for the trucking industry to fulfill America’s consumption all on its own.
A higher demand for truckers will lead to higher wages, but many different items will be left in the dust, never to be delivered. Chances are these would include cheaper bulk materials such as rubber, which is used to make the tires for trucks and trailers, rendering some of those inoperable, creating a feedback loop that would eventually grind the economy to a screeching halt.
Currently there is a “cooling off” period where workers have agreed to continue working through negotiations, but that is set to expire on September 16th. Chris Spear says the ends justify the means in getting the government involved.
“In our experience, it is always best for parties to resolve a contract dispute mutually, but given the approaching end of the cooling off period, it is vital that Congress be ready to act. Absent final binding agreements by the deadline, Congress should take swift action to implement the pattern established by the five tentative agreements and the PEB [Presidential Emergency Boad] recommendations. We encourage you to make that known publicly to the parties to reinforce the importance of the final ratified agreements, both to the parties involved and to the entire nation.”
What are your thoughts? Is this as an important issue to society as the enforcement against drinking and driving laws, wherein governmental intervention helps us all? Let us know in the comments below.
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