Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Rail Unions Vote on Tentative Contract

Earlier this week, all twelve rail carrier unions have now completed their votes on the tentative contract agreements (TAs) reached in September, which was based upon the President’s Emergency Board (PEB) recommendations issued in August. Out of the twelve unions, eight unions (representing about 45% of rail workers) have ratified the agreement, while four (representing about 55% of workers) rejected it.

IFCA still does not have definitive word on the date that a strike could happen. If no other agreement is agreed upon, a strike could start as early as December 5th. In the worst-case scenario, embargoes of ammonia shipments will begin approximately 5 days prior to a strike/shutdown.

Next Steps and Actions? While unions and carriers continue to negotiate, it is likely that Congress will intervene to prevent a strike and rail network shutdown. Republicans support imposing the August PEB recommendations and Democrats support the September TAs plus additional sick days. This dynamic started to take shape a few weeks ago. The middle ground between unions-carriers and political parties is the September TAs. Moreover, a bipartisan agreement will be necessary as the Senate needs to find sixty votes to do anything.

IFCA and our national associations are looking for any reasonable solution.  IFCA will continue to engage with our Illinois congressional delegation to advocate for a solution. Bottom line, presuming no surprises, we need Congress to take action to prevent the strike.  If IFCA receives any additional information on the situation, we will pass it along to our membership.