A rail strike would upset supply chains – and that’s exactly the point


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Unless we make progress soon in the faltering negotiations, Friday will mark the start of the first national rail strike in 30 years (which we wrote about in Monday newsletter).

ICYMI: Tens of thousands of train workers are ready to leave work just after midnight tomorrow unless they can secure better working conditions from their employers. Unions representing train engineers and conductors have entered into negotiations with railroads, with little sign of progress.

Business leaders are getting more and more anxious as the clock approaches, My colleague Chris Isidore writes. Any prolonged strike promises to create a logistical nightmare that will further complicate supply chains, lead to shortages in consumer goods and raise prices — not unlike the way the pandemic shut down parts of the economy in 2020.

Here are a few of the areas in which business and economic leaders anticipate disruption:

  • Truck drivers pick up the slack: “Slowing down all 7,000 daily long-distance freight trains in the United States would require an additional 460,000 long-distance trucks per day, which is not feasible given the availability of equipment and the current shortage of 80,000 drivers,” said Chris Speer, CEO of American. Trucking Associations in a Letter to Congress.
  • gas prices: Refineries ship the fuel through pipelines, but railroads play a major role in making the gasoline that ends up in the fuel tank. Almost all of the ethanol that goes into gasoline moves by rail. Chemicals used in the refining process also arrive via rail.
  • Halting these shipments could reverse the decline in gas prices we’ve seen in recent months.
  • Food shipments: Mike Seifert, chief executive of the National Grain and Feed Association, said a rail strike during the fall harvest would cause “rapid and severe” economic damage. The railways had already begun to refuse new shipments of grain in anticipation of the strike. Farmers preparing for planting in the fall season may see a shortage of fertilizer.
  • Production of cars and trucks: There is already a shortage of cars available for sale due to the lingering supply chain issues from the pandemic. But a rail strike would make a bad situation much worse. About 75% of cars made in US factories or imported are transported by rail. Many parts that travel between suppliers and assembly plants are also transported by rail.
  • Mobility: Many of the country’s passenger trains travel on tracks that are maintained and operated by freight railways. As a result, passenger rail lines expect to close operations in the event of a freight strike. Amtrak has already serviced several long-distance trains, most of which run on freight lines.

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Of course, all this turmoil is exactly the point. The American economy cannot function fully without the trains or the people who run them, but engineers and conductors say they are on the verge of collapse. They often work 14 days in a row. They don’t have sick days, they don’t have weekends set, and they are penalized when they miss work, even if it’s because of a doctor’s appointment or a family emergency. These conditions lead to high employee turnover, which increases worker stress.

“The average American wouldn’t know we were fired because we went to the doctor,” said Dennis Pearce, president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. For The Washington Post. “We have men who have been punished for taking time off due to a heart attack and Covid. It is inhumane.”

Google suffered one of its biggest setbacks on Wednesday when it was on top A European court has fined $4.13 billion To use its Android operating system to frustrate competitors. It’s a standard fine for an antitrust violation.

King Charles, after more than 70 years of waiting, has finally ascended the throne. It’s the ultimate promotion. But his former house staff may not be so lucky.

according to Watchman, up to 100 employees of Clarence House, his former official residence in London, were notified on Monday that they may soon be laid off. It was only four days after the queen’s death.

According to the newspaper, several employees assumed they would follow the king to his new home. Instead, they received a message from the king’s chief aide that their jobs were about to be cut down.

“Everyone is completely angry, including the private secretaries and the high-level team,” a source told the Guardian. “All the staff have been working late every night since Thursday, for us to meet this.”

Of course, there isn’t a great time to hear that you’re about to be laid off, but it didn’t help that the notice came at the same time as church services for the Queen.

The trade union representing Royal Domestic Workers described the decision to announce the layoffs during the period of national mourning as “nothing less than heartless”.

Union General Secretary Mark Sirotka said in a statement that while some staffing changes were expected, the “volume and speed” with which the potential layoffs were announced was “extremely harsh”.

Oh, and in case anyone forgot: the UK is in the middle of the worst cost-of-living crisis in a generation, with inflation over 10%, recession looming, and many people facing a winter in which they will have to choose between eating and heating at home.

Meanwhile, King Charles has just inherited a fortune (the value of which is kept secret, due to… reasons) that is not subject to the UK’s 40% inheritance tax.

my cent

It is unclear at this point to what extent Charles himself would have been involved in the staff change in the house. But he’s an obvious PR flop so early in his reign that he’s not the only one that has drawn attention this week.

On Tuesday, a leaked fountain pen made him fall silent: “Oh my God, I hate this! … I can’t stand this bloody thing!” before turning away, He is clearly upset. Perhaps he was still angry about the previous incident a few days ago, when he pointed out in frustration to one of the attendees Move the pen tray From one side of the table to the other while signing a large cardboard document during his announcement ceremony. Charles’s view offended That no one thought of moving his small pencil case before pointing someone out to do so.

None of this would be much of a problem, for example, for an American president serving as head of state and head of government. But for the British monarch, partying is all she does. Charles had a long time to prepare for it, under the supervision of his mother who was a great master of the art of cold, yet still seemed to be unable to hold on to the drop.

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