Railroads and the Economy: An Important Lesson

December 2, 2022

Yesterday, the Senate voted to avert a potentially catastrophic rail strike.

To put it plainly, Congress should have never been involved in these labor negotiations. Had Congress intervened and acted beyond the agreement, it would have set the terrible precedent that big labor can circumvent the negotiation process and Congress will step in and give them a better deal. If Congress had not intervened, union members would have gone on strike and brought our economy to a screeching halt just before the holidays.

Reliable rail is essential to Wyoming’s economy. Nearly all of the coal and trona produced in Wyoming is transported out of state via rail. Most of our agricultural commodity products are exported via rail too. If a strike were to have happened, these industries would have shut down. Hundreds of families in Wyoming would have been left without a paycheck.

Families across the U.S. also rely on Wyoming coal to power their homes. Without reliable exports, energy costs would rise, and the threat of blackouts would have become more real in the coldest winter months. 

Yesterday, Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and I sent a letter to our Republican colleagues urging them to accept the clean tentative agreement that the rail labor leaders and railroad companies had agreed to this summer. This agreement includes a 24% wage increase for rail employees, backpay, and other worker benefits that labor union bosses negotiated and agreed to with railroad companies. 

Wyoming relies on rail, and we appreciate the hard work the thousands of rail workers in our state do every day to keep our economy moving. It is time we put this issue to rest and start working on healing our economy.