Continued Freight Railroad Labor Negotiation
Impasse May Affect Amtrak San Joaquins Operations
Stockton, CA - the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA), its personnel, and its host railroads, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), are preparing for a potential freight railroad shutdown as soon as this Friday, September 16. In the event of an imminent freight railroad shutdown, the San Joaquins would be required to preemptively begin suspending service on Thursday, September 15th.
The nation's Class I freight carriers, including Union Pacific and BNSF, are currently in negotiations over salary, benefits, time off, and work practices with their respective employee union workforce. The Railway Labor Act (RLA) establishes a structured process of negotiations with the intent to avoid any disruption to the nation's railroad network, however, the RLA's cooling-off period ends on Friday, which legally enables a freight railroad work stoppage to occur. While this negation does not directly involve Amtrak or the Amtrak workforce, a work stoppage would impact San Joaquins service. SJJPA, which manages and administers the San Joaquins, has begun notifying passengers of potential impacts to service.
As a part of the RLA process, on August 16th, the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) released recommendations for a resolution between freight railroads and their employees. The release of these recommendations started a required 30-day cooling-off period before any work stoppage may occur. While there have been positive developments towards an agreement, a work stoppage may still occur. If the freight railroads and their employee unions do not come to an agreement, a stoppage will be allowed to commence as soon as 12:01 AM Eastern Time on Friday, September 16th. Freight and passenger operations on corridors managed by freight railroads would cease, including on the Union Pacific and BNSF lines on which the San Joaquins operates. Should a work stoppage commence, the San Joaquins would be required to begin suspending service on Thursday, September 15th until a resolution is achieved.
If continued labor negotiations do not result in an agreement, Amtrak San Joaquins will be suspending 702, 703, 714, 717, 718, and 719 and associated Thruway Bus service on Thursday, September 15, 2022. Beginning Friday, September 16, 2022, all San Joaquins train and bus service would be suspended until further notice. The Amtrak crews will stand ready to reintroduce service as quickly as possible.
"SJJPA has our passengers front of mind as we prepare for a potential work stoppage. As part of our commitment, we promise to continue to provide up-to-date information as it becomes available," said Stacey Mortensen, SJJPA Executive Director. "We are working in close collaboration with both our host railroads and community partners to ensure timely information and resources can be made available. In the event of a work stoppage, we will do everything in our power to restore service as quickly as possible."
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About the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA)
Since July 2015, SJJPA has been responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins. SJJPA is governed by Board Members representing each of the ten (10) Member Agencies along the 365-mile San Joaquins Corridor. For more information on SJJPA seewww.sjjpa.com. Amtrak San Joaquins is Amtrak's 6th busiest route with 1.1 million annual riders and 18 stations providing a safe, comfortable and reliable way to travel throughout California. Prior to service modifications due to the COVID-19 crisis, Amtrak San Joaquins ran 7 daily train round-trips and its Thruway buses provided connecting service to 135 destinations in California and Nevada including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Napa Valley, Las Vegas and Reno. To book your next trip, visit www.AmtrakSanJoaquins.com or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.