CHARLESTON, W.V. (WOWK) — There were big steps taken today to avoid a nationwide rail strike, set for next week. The issue is a particular concern in the Appalachian coal states.
Coal accounts for 11% of all rail revenue in the United States, and that amounts to $8 billion a year.
Freight and passenger train workers were planning to strike on Dec. 9. On Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a measure to block a strike, with the Senate and President Biden to consider it next. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says a rail strike would be devastating.
“And this could be a catastrophic move for this nation. Already right now, we have all kinds of freight issues. All kinds of issues, not just on coal, but on every product,” said Justice.
According to the American Association of Railroads, 3.3 million rail cars full of coal are shipped each year. With the strike looking unlikely to happen now, rail unions will continue to negotiate for higher pay and health care benefits.
Rep. Carol Miller, (R) West Virginia, issued the following statement: “The White House put politics over people to cause this situation. I voted to support our vital West Virginia industries, keep our railways open, and avoid a disastrous economic crisis.”