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Rail-Strike Deadline Carries Economic and Political Risks for Biden

  • Two of 12 major rail unions holding out for working conditions
  • Railroads threaten to limit some shipments starting Monday
A rail worker watches as a freight train passes on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Southern Transcontinental line in Alva, Oklahoma.
A rail worker watches as a freight train passes on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Southern Transcontinental line in Alva, Oklahoma.Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Tens of thousands of US railroad workers could be on strike by the end of this week, a potential new shock to supply chains that would pose a pre-midterm political quandary for President Joe Biden and the Democrats.

Negotiators met through the weekend trying to reach a deal with two unions covering some 57,000 engineers and conductors -- a tired-and-riled workforce that emerged from the pandemic-rattled economy. Ten other unions involved have reached tentative agreements, though such deals require ratification by members. US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh met with both sides last week.