American Iron & Steel Institute President & CEO Mr Kevin Dempsey has sent a letter to congressional leadership urging Congress to act if a voluntary agreement in the ongoing rail negotiations fails to reach a resolution. On behalf of the American steel producers that AISI represents, Mr Dempsey’s letter expressed concerns about the state of ongoing labor negotiations in the freight rail industry and the potential for significant disruption in the critical national rail system, which would have serious negative consequences for the entire US economy, including the steel industry. Mr Kevin Dempsey wrote “Our nation’s railroads not only serve as the arteries for American commerce, they are an indispensable necessity for the health and survival of our domestic steel industry. American steel producers rely heavily on railroads for transporting raw materials to their mills and for shipping finished steel products to the market. A functional freight railroad system is critical to ensuring that the American steel industry can effectively and efficiently serve its customers.” Mr Dempsey added “At a time when our nation’s supply chains for critical materials like steel have not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, it would be a tremendous setback for supply chains to suffer another blow. A voluntary agreement among all parties to the ongoing rail negotiations is clearly the best outcome. But if negotiators fail to reach an agreement by the end of the cooling off period, we urge Congress to act to ensure that our nation’s freight rail system remains operational.” According to media reports, US railroad workers are preparing for strike as negotiations between management and unions are at an impasse. Heated negotiations over a new union contract between railroad corporations and 150,000-member-strong labor unions have been ongoing for nearly three years. A cooling off period imposed by the Biden administration after it issued recommendations to settle the dispute ends on Friday. If no deal is reached, unions are threatening industrial action, the first since 1992, and workers say they will quit an industry already facing staff shortages. The consequences of a strike would be severe. Rail moves close to 40% of the US’s long-distance trade and a strike could cost the US economy USD 2 billion a day, disrupting travel, commutes and the shipment of commodities and other goods across the country.