American Bakers Association (ABA) whose members produce 85% of baked goods in the US have sent a thank you to President Biden and the House of Representatives for recognising and working to avert a potentially devastating rail stoppage.
On Monday 28 November 2022 more than 400 groups in the US called on Congress to intervene in a railroad labour standoff which threatened to freeze almost 30% of US cargo shipments and incur catastrophic repercussions.
It would, according to President Biden, disrupt “our ability to move food to tables”. Now, due to a bill which passed in the House of Representatives, 290 voted to block the potential rail stoppage.
“America’s baking industry now urgently calls on the US Senate to move forward with legislation to avert a rail stoppage. In short: If a rail shutdown were to occur, consumers should expect to see empty sections of shelves in stores and fewer restaurant options,” explained Robb MacKie, President and CEO of ABB.
The disagreement dates back to September this year, during which the National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC) who represent the US’ freight railroads alerted the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division that the union’s latest proposal would not be accepted in a dispute over pay. Although some rail union leaders and carriers agreed to a deal in September many union workers voted against it in a push for sick leave.
“While our industry is making contingency plans, including attempting to source additional trucks and keeping additional stores of ingredients on-site, a stoppage would be catastrophic to many of our members,” added Mr MacKie. “Bakers and their customers in the Midwest could face an especially dire situation, as many bakeries in America’s heartland rely solely on rail to receive ingredients, including flour, liquid sugars and sweeteners, and vegetable oil.”
The possibility of freight trains which carry cargo throughout the US stopping sent alarm through the country as it would have caused mass supply disruption and sent food prices soaring for consumers amidst current economic hardship.
“Additionally, medium-sized and small bakers – most of ABA’s Member companies – could be forced to shut down facilities if they are not able to receive new ingredients by rail or truck, as they are not able to operate without extra ingredients on hand,” he concluded.
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