Announcement of the Establishment of Emergency Board No. 213 To Investigate a Railroad Labor Dispute


April 20, 1988


The President announced today that he has established, effective April 22, 1988, Presidential Emergency Board No. 213 to investigate a current dispute between the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company (CNW) and certain of its employees represented by the United Transportation Union. The President, by Executive order, established the Emergency Board on the recommendation of the National Mediation Board, which found that the dispute threatens to interrupt interstate commerce to a degree that would deprive a section of the country of essential transportation services.


The CNW employs over 8,000 persons and in terms of revenue generated is the 8th largest railroad in the United States. The railroad is a major link in our interstate rail network, as a number of major U.S. Class I railroads rely on the CNW to receive or forward their traffic. The CNW handled nearly 1.5 million carloads and over 80 million tons of traffic in 1986. This represents 7 percent of total rail carloads nationwide and 15 percent of all traffic moved in the western territory.


The great majority of CNW traffic is handled in connection with other railroads. More than one-third of CNW's traffic originates on its lines and is forwarded to connecting lines; another one-fourth is received from other rail carriers and terminated on the CNW. Bridge traffic (received from one carrier and subsequently passed along to another carrier) accounts for 21 percent. Only 16 percent represents local shipments (those that both originate and terminate on CNW lines). The largest commodity handled by the CNW in terms of revenues is coal, which accounted for 14 percent of its annual revenues in 1986, 28 percent of its total carloads, and 7 percent of all U.S. rail coal loadings. Grain traditionally has been a major commodity for CNW, including wheat in the Northern Plains and corn in the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins. Grain accounts for 13 percent of CNW-originated carloads, representing 12 percent of all western railroads' grain originations and 9 percent of rail loadings of grain nationwide.


In addition to its freight-handling activities, the railroad is the major rail passenger provider for the city of Chicago, handling approximately 40,000 passengers daily. Alternatives to this commuter rail service are limited. As a result, the Chicago area would suffer a substantial disruption of normal business activities in the event of a strike.


Consequently the President has invoked the Emergency Board procedures of the Railway Labor Act, which in part provide that the board will report its findings and recommendations for settlement to the President within 30 days from the date of its creation. The parties must then consider the recommendations of the Emergency Board and endeavor to resolve their differences without engaging in self-help during a subsequent 30-day period.