Shapiro has received multiple reports that US rail workers from two of the biggest labor unions are preparing to strike once the cooling off period expires this Friday, September 16—which may cause significant delays and disruptions for US supply chains.

Although Biden issued an Executive Order in July to establish the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), officials have been unsuccessful in reaching a unanimous agreement with all twelve rail union representatives. As a result, the final two unions still holding out—the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and Smart Transportation Divisions—may decide to strike in an effort to influence negotiations.

In wake of this news, officials have begun issuing embargos for certain types of shipments, including rail security-sensitive material (RSSM) and time sensitive cargo to ensure that hazardous materials or relevant cargo isn’t left unattended in the event of a sudden strike.

Customers utilizing Bulk Unit Trains, Intermodal Services and Automotive Services should expect to sustain a delay of service of up to 72 hours. Additionally, please note the following changes announced by Norfolk Southern (NS):

  • NS will close all gates to Intermodal traffic effective 12 PM on Tuesday, September 13.
  • In-gates for loaded or empty Intermodal units for rail movement will close at all NS Intermodal terminals.
  • Traffic originating at on-dock port facilities and privately owned Intermodal terminals will not be accepted.
  • Customers with eastbound interline shipments should contact the originating rail carrier regarding guidelines for the acceptance of traffic at origin.
  • Until further notice, out-gates will remain open at all NS Intermodal terminals during normal business hours for customers to pick up units.
  • EMP and TMX customers should also note the following:
    • NS will discontinue filling reservations on equipment effective 12:01 AM on Tuesday, September 13.
    • Any empty units out-gated after 12 PM on Sunday, September 11, and until further notice will be charged according to normal per diem schedules.
    • Customers will be able to return empty EMP and TMX containers to NS terminals as normal until further notice. This process may be modified as terminal conditions require.

We will continue to monitor this conflict closely and will update our loyal customers as this situation develops.