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Biden appoints board to help end disputes over rail freight and union contracts

Biden signed an injunction Friday ahead of a deadline to intervene in US rail workers’ talks involving 115,000 workers, opening the door to a strike or a potential shutdown that could threaten an already fragile economy and could choke food and fuel supplies.

Biden Eye Era F Jaffe https://www.law.gwu.edu/ira-f-jaffe Chairman of the Presidential Emergency Council. Jaffe, who has been involved in labor and employment arbitration cases for more than four decades and serves as chair or member of five other emergency committees, is a member of the U.S. Labor Committee on the Rapid Response Task Force under the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.

He also mentioned Boston College’s Professor David Toomey, who has served on previous boards that helped resolve major rail and aviation disputes, and Barbara C. Denhardt, an independent arbitrator who served as chair of the New York State Employment Relations Board and the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.

If Biden had not formed the council by Monday, railroad companies and unions could have chosen to stop working or strike, respectively.

The White House said the board “will provide a structure for staff and management to resolve their differences. The board will investigate the dispute and issue a report recommending how to resolve the dispute within 30 days of its creation.”

Talks between major shipping lines, including Union Pacific and BNSF, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and the unions representing its workers have continued for more than two years.

The order provides for a “cooling off period” to help the parties reach an agreement.

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US business groups representing retailers and food and fuel producers have warned that failure to appoint a board would be “disastrous” for the weak economy.

Railroads carry everything from Amazon.com Inc. parcels. to heat oil and soybeans, and a shutdown of any kind could raise prices for essentials and disrupt shattered supply chains.

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