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Class 1 Freight Railroads Brace For Strike Friday, Sep 16

June 1, 2023

Across the country the 12 labor unions of the nation’s Class I railroads—CN, Norfolk Southern, CSX, CP, BNSF, and UP — are preparing to strike, starting at midnight on Friday, September 16, if new contracts are not completed and approved.

CN has advised that exports will not be received at its rail terminals starting at 23:59 on Thursday, September 15, while Norfolk Southern advised that exports will not be received at its rail terminals as of 12:01 Wednesday, September 14. Exports and imports are potentially affected to and from rail terminals in Chicago and Detroit.

BNSF on September 12 reported that it has already taken action on a small subset of certain commodities in advance of the service interruption, including temperature-sensitive shipments:

  • Effective Wednesday, September 14 at 12:01 a.m., BNSF will not allow Temperature Controlled Intermodal (TCI) units to in-gate at any of its intermodal facilities.
  • Customers are encouraged to pick up their TCI units that have reached their final destination and units at origin that have not been loaded onto a train.
  • Non-running TCI units used for dry bulk shipments may still be in-gated.

Containerized imports arriving at marine terminals will be halted if they do not reach the rail terminal before the strike commences. Imports will likely be held up at the ocean terminal if they cannot reach the rail terminal in in the US before a strike shutdown. It's highly recommends your receiver’s trucker checks for the current status at rail terminals before picking-up an import container from the ramp.

Check the railroad websites (see above) to find out more about service disruptions. You can also see updates from the labor unions on the National Railway Labor Conference website.

“There is a possibility that the railroads and labor unions will reach their agreements and a strike will be avoided,” said NCBFAA Logistics Subcommittee Chair Merit Tremper. “Realizing the severity that this strike would have on the nation’s economy, President Biden may announce steps to avoid a rail shutdown, like he did in July.”

Sources: Atlantic Container Line & NCBFAA