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Railroad deal wards off strike

December 2, 2011 http://detnews.com/article/20111202/AUTO01/112020346

Railroad deal wards off strike

DAVID SHEPARDSON
/ Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — The nation’s freight railroads reached a deal late Thursday to head off a nationwide rail strike that could have crippled auto production and sales as early as next week.

The railroads said they reached tentative agreements with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the American Train Dispatchers Association, which together represent about 26,500 employees in collective bargaining. The last remaining union without a deal, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, agreed to extend the “cooling off” period until Feb. 8, eliminating the immediate threat of a strike.

“We’re pleased that we have now settled with 12 of the 13 unions in this bargaining round,” said A. Kenneth Gradia, Chairman of the National Carriers’ Conference Committee.

A stoppage “would limit the ability of auto manufacturers to move components to plants to enable assembly, and stop shipment of finished vehicles,” seven auto industry groups told Congress Thursday. “Production at assembly plants and independent parts manufacturers throughout the country would be impacted immediately.”

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