Workers at one of the largest US railroad unions voted against a tentative contract deal brokered by the White House on Monday, raising the possibility of a year-end strike that could disrupt vital food, fuel, and retail shipments.
The SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD), which represents about 28,000 conductors, voted down the contract with a record turnout. Approximately 50.8% of workers voted against the contract.
Rail engineers for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), who make up the second-largest union, voted in favor of the contract on Monday, splitting the top rail unions that employ roughly half of the industry.
The ratification process has been completed by all 12 rail unions, with members of eight unions voting in favor and four voting against it. In order to avoid a strike that could cause widespread disruptions in the nation, the four unions that voted no will remain at work until at least early next month.
In the event that even one of the dozen railroad unions went on strike, the other 11 unions would honor picket lines, resulting in a railroad shutdown. An outcome the US economy cannot afford to experience, especially around the holidays.