Union President Reveals Rail Strike Odds Are ‘About 50-50’

During a Tuesday appearance on “CNN Tonight” the president of the largest rail union in the country — whose members recently rejected a tentative deal to avoid a rail strike — stated that he believes the odds of a strike are at “about 50-50 right now.”

Jeremy Ferguson is the President of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail Transportation union Transportation Division (SMART-TD), which represents about 28,000 rail conductors. The union announced on Monday that their members had voted against ratifying a tentative labor deal with freight railroads.

According to reporting from CNN, “all 12 rail unions have now completed their ratification process, with members of eight of the unions voting in favor of deals and four voting against it.”

Negotiations will now be held to attempt to avoid a strike that could cause significant disruptions in the supply chain and overall economy. Meanwhile, the unions which rejected the deal will remain on the job at least until early next month while the negotiations take place.

CNN further noted that, “If even one of the dozen railroad unions were to go on strike, the other 11 would honor the picket lines, shutting down the railroads.”

During the interview on CNN, Ferguson was asked by host Kasie Hunt about the ongoing negotiations.

“So, yesterday, your 20,000 workers rejected this deal that had been announced earlier in the year. How did today’s talks go?” Hunt asked.

“Well, I think we were off to a decent start,” the union president responded. “We had a lot of issues we had to put on the table to begin the discussions. So, we will follow up again tomorrow and see where that leads us.”

Hunt then asked, “So how likely do you think it is that your members are going to strike, even if it’s only for a short time?”

“Well, I think it’s about 50-50 right now,” Ferguson replied. “We’re going to continue working as hard as we can to get them the right agreement that would ratify. They have a lot of issues. They have spoken. And I’ve got to do my due diligence and get in there and keep these negotiations moving.”