On Friday, the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which includes the six Class I freight railroads, issued a statement that they would begin to take steps to manage and secure the shipments of hazardous and security-sensitive materials starting as early as today, Monday, September 12th, in light of the possibility of a rail labor strike. While these preparatory actions are necessary, they do not mean a work stoppage is certain as the railroads have stated they will continue to work toward tentative agreements with the unions.
Sunday, the heads of the two largest rail unions — the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division union and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union — which account for approximately 90,000 rail workers issued their own statement accusing the nation's largest railroads of attempting to "further abuse shippers and gridlock the supply chain in order to extort a contract settlement from rail unions", and that the unions remain at the bargaining table.
Five of the 12 railroad unions had already reached tentative agreements based on the Presidential Emergency Board's recommendations, and on Sunday three more tentative agreements were reached. If an agreement is not reached by September 16th, it is expected that there will be a rail worker strike unless Congress steps in to block the work stoppage due to the economic consequences that would result from it.