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Opinion
Thomas Black

Congress Won’t Let a Rail Dispute Cripple the US

The bigger question is whether lawmakers will seek to impose a resolution more favorable to unionized workers. 

On Friday, rail workers can go on strike or railroad management can lock them out.

On Friday, rail workers can go on strike or railroad management can lock them out.

Photographer: Whitney Curtis/Bloomberg

The US transportation system is already starting to feel the effects of a potential rail strike, but any pain will be short-lived no matter how far apart the sides are at a Friday deadline because Congress will not allow supply chains to seize up again.

Just after midnight Thursday, rail workers can go on strike or railroad management can lock them out. Any strike or lockout won’t last long, though. Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress can step in to either impose a resolution based on a Presidential Emergency Board plan that was submitted in August or order trains to operate as usual while the two sides continue to negotiate.