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Looming railroad strike could have major impact on Milwaukee, Southeast Wisconsin

Amtrak announced it would cancel all long-distance trains starting Thursday as a pair of major rail unions prepare to go on strike.
Amtrak
Posted at 9:56 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 23:26:03-04

MILWAUKEE — We could soon be on track for a nationwide railroad strike.

Amtrak has canceled long-distance routes beginning Thursday. Engineers and conductors who are walking off the job Friday could also cripple the nation's already struggling supply chain.

Here in Southeast Wisconsin, Mildred Thompson says she has been riding the Amtrak train religiously from Milwaukee to Missouri and back to take care of her aunt. Now, she may have to find another way.

"I've been riding it for the past five months," Thompson said. "I really rely on it. I don't know what I would have to do."

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If negotiations aren't met, this would be the first railroad strike in 30 years. It comes after U.S. railroad workers raised a number of concerns, including pay, strict attendance policies, and working conditions.

"I kind of support strikers," Amtrak rider Elise Beck said. "It gets the job done and the whole point is to kind of disrupt people's lives because that is ultimately what will send a message."

According to one report, shutting down the railroad system would cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day. That impact would also be felt in Milwaukee and across Southeast Wisconsin.

"The Union Pacific railroad is one of the main national freight lines," Milwaukee Business Journal Senior Reporter Rich Kirchen said. "It runs through Milwaukee and they would be impacted by the strike... The bigger impact certainly would be on businesses in our area that rely on freight shipping, everything from coal to oil, to chemicals, livestock feed."

Government officials say the strike would also have a tremendous impact on goods and groceries. It has people worried.

"​It'll drive grocery prices higher, less stuff will be on the grocery shelves," Amtrak rider David Livingston said. "It'll impact everybody. We won't have much food, we won't have all the stuff that we need."

Until a final decision is made, it is a wait-and-see game.

"Hopefully they'll be able to work something out," said Kirchen.

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