STORY: Andrew Wheaton, the Director of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, told Reuters a potential shutdown could unleash transportation woes on U.S. energy, agriculture, manufacturing and retail sectors.
Wheaton said that would cost the U.S. economy as much as $2 billion per day.
Talks are ongoing between operators including Union Pacific, Berkshire Hathaway's BNSF, and Norfolk Southern, and three holdout unions representing about 60,000 workers before a work stoppage affecting freight and Amtrak could begin.
They have until a minute after midnight on Friday to reach deals on pay raises and working conditions.
If agreements are not reached, employers could also lock out workers.
Railroads and unions may agree to stay at the bargaining table, or the Democratic-led U.S. Congress could intervene by extending talks or establishing settlement terms.