Obama could intervene in rail labor dispute

The White House could intervene to resolve contract disputes involving union workers at the largest U.S. freight railroads

The White House could intervene to resolve contract disputes involving union workers at the largest U.S. freight railroads.

Talks between 11 major unions and a group overseeing negotiations for CSX Corp., Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and other railroads have failed to reach a settlement after more than a year of bargaining, officials said Tuesday. Rising healthcare costs are a key sticking point in the talks, according to a report in IFW.

The unions rejected arbitration and broke off negotiations to enter a 30-day “cooling-off” period. If the cooling off period expires with no settlement, the unions could recommend a strike. But insiders say a walkout is not expected because the Obama administration is likely step in to prevent it, IFW reports.

Government intervention is permitted under the laws governing railroad and airline disputes. The president can intervene if a strike is considered potentially damaging to commerce. At that point, the White House would appoint a presidential board to recommend contract terms. If that fails, Congress could order a resolution.

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