Minnesota industries brace for impact as rail worker strike looms

Several rail worker unions have failed to reach a deal with some of the biggest railroad operators in the country, as a strike deadline inches closer. 

If no deal is reached by Friday, many freight trains will come to a hault and throw a wrench in the American supply chain.

"The supply chain crisis that we had several months ago could return," University of Minnesota transportation researcher Frank Douma told FOX 9.

Douma says Minnesota will play a significant role in the impact, as it is among the top five states for shipments originated on rail.

He also points to some of the state’s largest employers like General Mills that rely on grain shipments to produce much of their product. He predicts those companies are watching these negotiations closely.

"There’s just not that many trained railway workers out there that could be brought in to replace striking workers," he said.

Metro Transit has warned Twin Cities commuters that Northstar service could come to a halt if a strike occurs, while Amtrak is already cancelling trips.

Douma says the American supply chain can weather a few days of strike, but not much more than that.

"A few days will create problems, but not a crisis," he said. "When it extends to the time where we see factories shutting down, workers being furloughed because there is no raw material coming in, we see empty store shelves… then we get to a crisis and that would take several weeks."