A dispute between major freight railroads in the USA and labour unions has been running for over a year; in a bid to avert strike action, the White House has appointed a presidential emergency board to try and resolve the talks. This is the first time since 1996 that an emergency board has been appointed for major freight railroads.
Labour unions are arguing that their workers should have a bigger share of the high revenues currently being generated by the rail freight companies, but the operators say that the profits will fund much needed investment in freight infrastructure.
The prospect of a disruption of freight shipments during the festive holiday season means that it is vital to find a solution soon. Industry officials say a strike would cost $2 billion a day.
“Freight rail is vital to our economy and our future,” President Barack Obama said in a statement.
“A disruption could affect businesses across the country and cause unnecessary damage to our already fragile economy.”