unusually high injury rates, among other safety issues. The facility was evacuated after a cardboard compactor caught fire last week, two days after the JFK8 fire, which was similar.

“The timeline to fix things is before something tragic happens,” Ms. Goodall said.

She accused Amazon of running an aggressive anti-union campaign, including regular meetings with employees in which it questions the union’s credibility and suggests that workers could end up worse off if they unionize.

Mr. Flaningan, the company spokesman, said that while injuries increased as Amazon trained hundreds of thousands of new workers in 2021, the company believed that its safety record surpassed that of other retailers over a broader period.

“Like many other companies, we hold these meetings because it’s important that everyone understands the facts about joining a union and the election process itself,” he said, adding that the decision to unionize is up to employees.

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The Perennial Importance Of National Voter Registration Day

As states log record turnout in primaries this year, history shows an upward trend, with registration and turnout climbing for midterm elections.

Coast to coast, from sports leagues to unions, there was an aggressive push Tuesday to get voters registered. 

Just seven weeks before the critical midterm elections, operatives from both parties are trying to ensure their voters will be the ones showing up. 

As states log record turnout in primaries this year, history shows an upward trend, with registration climbing for midterm elections and turnout spiking even faster. 

It’s a trend activists hope to continue in an election season that will set the course for a Republican party trying to find its footing post-Trump, and a Democratic party seeking validation for an ambitious vision of the future. 

It’s a complicated picture in a midterm election like no other, yet just like every vote before it, it’s one that all boils down to who gets registered and who shows up.

Source: newsy.com

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Railroads’ Strategy Thrilled Wall Street, but Not Customers and Workers

America’s first commercial railroads were built almost two centuries ago. Freight rail has been a symbol of the nation’s economic might and ingenuity ever since.

In recent years, some of the biggest names on Wall Street have made significant investments in railroads, reaping big stock gains as railroads reported higher profits. But the underlying strategies that strengthened railroads’ bottom lines have caused friction with customers, regulators and particularly workers — giving rise to a contract dispute that threatened a nationwide shutdown of the railway system.

After losing ground to trucking in the mid-20th century, the rail industry managed to recover through decades of consolidation and a push for efficiency. Critics say those same dynamics created a system with thin staffing and minimal competition, making it particularly vulnerable to shocks like the coronavirus pandemic.

Those complaints were at the center of the contract impasse that left tens of thousands of workers prepared to walk off the job last week. A strike could have been economically devastating, paralyzing shipments of grain, chemicals and other cargo.

It was averted with less than a day to go when the Biden administration helped to broker a tentative agreement that addresses some of those issues and will be put to a vote of the rail unions’ members in the coming weeks.

The freight rail industry says it has worked hard to adapt to rapid changes — including the pandemic and, before that, a decline in demand for coal, a critical source of business.

“The industry has had to continually evolve to grow its other services,” said Ian Jefferies, the president of the Association of American Railroads, an industry group. To make up for the decline in coal, freight shippers have tried to transport more grain, truck trailers, shipping containers and other goods, he said.

according to the Surface Transportation Board, which monitors and regulates rates.

Prices started to increase in the early 2000s, driven by rising costs for labor, fuel, materials and supplies as well as a growing focus on profitability. From 2002 to 2019, long-distance trucking rates increased by 40 percent, according to a Transportation Department report published this year, while rail rates grew by 96 percent, though they are still well below historical levels, adjusted for inflation.

won a proxy battle for Canadian Pacific in 2012 and installed Mr. Harrison to lead the company.

Mr. Harrison brought his approach to Canadian Pacific, then to CSX in 2017, before his death that year. Other freight carriers and Wall Street increasingly took notice, and the practice has spread throughout the industry.

Many freight rail experts say P.S.R. brought necessary reforms to the industry, but they also say some practices, which can differ greatly among carriers, went too far or were poorly executed. Unions say the system has created miserable working conditions.

letter to shareholders.

“I’ll venture a rare prediction,” he wrote in February. “BNSF will be a key asset for Berkshire and our country a century from now.”

Peter S. Goodman and Clifford Krauss contributed reporting.

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Biden: Rail Strike Averted Is ‘Big Win For America’

A strike might have begun as early as Friday that could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached, averting a nationwide strike that could have been devastating to the economy before the pivotal midterm elections.

Railroads and union representatives had been in negotiations for 20 hours at the Labor Department well past midnight to hammer out a deal, as there was a risk of a strike starting on Friday that could have shut down rail lines across the country.

The president brought business and union leaders to the Oval Office on Thursday morning, then hailed the deal in remarks in the White House Rose Garden.

“This agreement is validation of what I’ve always believed, unions and management can work together — can work together — for the benefit of everyone,” President Biden declared.

President Biden made a key phone call to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at 9 p.m. Wednesday as the talks were ongoing after Italian dinner had been brought in, according to White House officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss the conversations. On speakerphone, the president told the negotiators to get a deal done and to consider the harm to families, farmers and businesses if a shutdown occurred, the officials said.

What resulted from the back and forth was a tentative agreement that will go to union members for a vote after a post-ratification cooling off period of several weeks. One union had to wake up its board to move forward on the agreement, which involved 50 calls from White House officials to organized labor officials.

In the Oval Office, a beaming President Biden joked that he was surprised everyone was “still standing” after the late night and that they should be “home in bed.”

The strike would also have disrupted passenger traffic as well as freight rail lines, because Amtrak and many commuter railroads operate on tracks owned by the freight railroads. Amtrak had already canceled a number of its long-distance trains this week, and said the rest of its long-distance trains would stop Thursday ahead of the strike deadline.

Following the tentative agreement, Amtrak said it was “working to quickly restore canceled trains and reaching out to impacted customers to accommodate on first available departures.”

The five-year deal, retroactive to 2020, includes the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses that a Presidential Emergency Board recommended this summer. But railroads also agreed to ease their strict attendance policies to address some of the unions’ concerns about working conditions.

Railroad workers will now be able to take unpaid days off for doctor’s appointments without being penalized under railroad attendance rules. Previously, workers would lose points under the attendance systems that the BNSF and Union Pacific railways had adopted, and they could be disciplined if they lost all their points.

The unions that represent the conductors and engineers who drive the trains had pressed hard for changes in the attendance rules, and they said this deal sets a precedent that they will be able to negotiate over those kinds of rules in the future. But workers will still have to vote whether those changes are enough to approve the deal.

The threat of a shutdown had put President Biden in a delicate spot politically. The Democratic president believes unions built the middle class, but he also knew a rail worker strike could damage the economy ahead of the midterms, when majorities in both chambers of Congress, key governorships and scores of important state offices will be up for grabs.

That left him in the awkward position on Wednesday. He flew to Detroit, a stalwart of the labor movement, to espouse the virtues of unionization, while members of his administration went all-out to keep talks going in Washington between the railroads and unionized workers.

As the administration was trying to forge peace, United Auto Workers Local 598 member Ryan Buchalski introduced President Biden at the Detroit auto show as “the most union- and labor-friendly president in American history” and someone who was “kickin’ ass for the working class.” Buchalski harked back to the pivotal sit-down strikes by autoworkers in the 1930s.

In the speech that followed, President Biden recognized that he wouldn’t be in the White House without the support of unions such as the UAW and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, saying autoworkers “brung me to the dance.”

But without a deal among the 12 unions in talks back in Washington, President Biden also knew that a stoppage could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

Far more was at stake than sick leave and salary bumps for 115,000 unionized railroad workers. The ramifications could have extended to control of Congress and to the shipping network that keeps factories rolling, stocks the shelves of stores and stitches the U.S. together as an economic power.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking aboard Air Force One as it jetted to Detroit, said a rail worker strike was “an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people.”

President Biden faced the same kind of predicament faced by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 with coal and Harry Truman in 1952 with steel — how do you balance the needs of labor and business in doing what’s best for the nation? Railways were so important during World War I that Woodrow Wilson temporarily nationalized the industry to keep goods flowing and prevent strikes.

Union activism has surged under President Biden, as seen in a 56% increase in petitions for union representation with the National Labor Relations Board so far this fiscal year.

With the economy still recovering from the supply chain disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s goal was to keep all parties so a deal could be reached. President Biden also knew a stoppage could worsen the dynamics that have contributed to soaring inflation and created a political headache for the party in power.

Eddie Vale, a Democratic political consultant and former AFL-CIO communications aide, said the White House pursued the correct approach at a perilous moment.

“No one wants a railroad strike, not the companies, not the workers, not the White House,” he said. “No one wants it this close to the election.”

Sensing political opportunity, Senate Republicans moved Wednesday to pass a law to impose contract terms on the unions and railroad companies to avoid a shutdown. Democrats, who control both chambers in Congress, blocked it.

The economic impact of a potential strike was not lost on members of the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based group that represents CEOs. It issued its quarterly outlook for the economy Wednesday.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of headwinds from supply chain problems since the pandemic started and those problems would be geometrically magnified,” Josh Bolten, the group’s CEO, told reporters. “There are manufacturing plants around the country that likely have to shut down. … There are critical products to keep our water clean.”

By 5:05 a.m. Thursday, it was clear that the hard work across the government, unions and railway companied had paid off as President Biden announced the deal, calling it “an important win for our economy and the American people.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Biden: Tentative Railway Labor Deal Reached, Averting Strike

A strike might have begun as early as Friday that could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that a tentative railway labor agreement has been reached, averting a strike that could have been devastating to the economy before the pivotal midterm elections.

Railroads and union representatives had been in negotiations for 20 hours at the Labor Department on Wednesday to hammer out a deal, as there was a risk of a strike starting on Friday that could have shut down rail lines across the country.

President Biden made a key phone call to Labor Secretary Marty Walsh at 9 p.m. as the talks were ongoing after Italian dinner had been brought in, according to a White House official insisting on anonymity. The president told the negotiators to consider the harm to families, farmers and businesses if a shutdown occurred.

What resulted from the back and forth was a tentative agreement that will go to union members for a vote after a post-ratification cooling off period of several weeks.

“These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” President Biden said. “The agreement is also a victory for railway companies who will be able to retain and recruit more workers for an industry that will continue to be part of the backbone of the American economy for decades to come.”

The threat of a shutdown had put President Biden in a delicate spot politically. The Democratic president believes unions built the middle class, but he also knew a rail worker strike could damage the economy ahead of the midterms, when majorities in both chambers of Congress, key governorships and scores of important state offices will be up for grabs.

That left him in the awkward position on Wednesday. He flew to Detroit, a stalwart of the labor movement, to espouse the virtues of unionization, while members of his administration went all-out to keep talks going in Washington between the railroads and unionized workers.

As the administration was trying to forge peace, United Auto Workers Local 598 member Ryan Buchalski introduced President Biden at the Detroit auto show on Wednesday as “the most union- and labor-friendly president in American history” and someone who was “kickin’ ass for the working class.” Buchalski harked back to the pivotal sitdown strikes by autoworkers in the 1930s.

In the speech that followed, President Biden recognized that he wouldn’t be in the White House without the support of unions such as the UAW and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, saying autoworkers “brung me to the dance.”

But without a deal among the 12 unions in talks back in Washington, President Biden also knew that a stoppage might have begun as early as Friday that could halt shipments of food and fuel at a cost of $2 billion a day.

Far more was at stake than sick leave and salary bumps for 115,000 unionized railroad workers. The ramifications could have extended to control of Congress and to the shipping network that keeps factories rolling, stocks the shelves of stores and stitches the U.S. together as an economic power.

That’s why White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking aboard Air Force One as it jetted to Detroit on Wednesday, said a rail worker strike was “an unacceptable outcome for our economy and the American people.” The rail lines and their workers’ representatives “need to stay at the table, bargain in good faith to resolve outstanding issues, and come to an agreement,” she said.

President Biden faced the same kind of predicament faced by Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 with coal and Harry Truman in 1952 with steel — how do you balance the needs of labor and business in doing what’s best for the nation? Railways were so important during World War I that Woodrow Wilson temporarily nationalized the industry to keep goods flowing and prevent strikes.

Inside the White House, aides don’t see a contradiction between President Biden’s devotion to unions and his desire to avoid a strike. Union activism has surged under President Biden, as seen in a 56% increase in petitions for union representation with the National Labor Relations Board so far this fiscal year.

One person familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss White House deliberations on the matter, said President Biden’s mindset in approaching the debate was that he’s the president of the entire country, not just for organized labor.

With the economy still recovering from the supply chain disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s goal was to keep all parties so a deal could be reached. The person said the White House saw a commitment to keep negotiating in good faith as the best way to avoid a shutdown while exercising the principles of collective bargaining that President Biden holds dear.

President Biden also knew a stoppage could worsen the dynamics that have contributed to soaring inflation and created a political headache for the party in power.

Eddie Vale, a Democratic political consultant and former AFL-CIO communications aide, said the White House pursued the correct approach at a perilous moment.

“No one wants a railroad strike, not the companies, not the workers, not the White House,” he said. “No one wants it this close to the election.”

Vale added that the sticking point in the talks was about “respect basically — sick leave and bereavement leave,” issues President Biden has supported in speeches and with his policy proposals.

Sensing political opportunity, Senate Republicans moved Wednesday to pass a law to impose contract terms on the unions and railroad companies to avoid a shutdown. Democrats, who control both chambers in Congress, blocked it.

“If a strike occurs and paralyzes food, fertilizer and energy shipments nationwide, it will be because Democrats blocked this bill,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The economic impact of a potential strike was not lost on members of the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based group that represents CEOs. It issued its quarterly outlook for the economy Wednesday.

“We’ve been experiencing a lot of headwinds from supply chain problems since the pandemic started and those problems would be geometrically magnified,” Josh Bolten, the group’s CEO, told reporters. “There are manufacturing plants around the country that likely have to shut down. … There are critical products to keep our water clean.”

The roundtable also had a meeting of its board of directors Wednesday. But Bolten said Lance Fritz, chair of the board’s international committee and the CEO of Union Pacific railroad, would miss it “because he’s working hard trying to bring the strike to a resolution.”

By 5:05 a.m. Thursday, it was clear that the hard work across the government, unions and railway companies had paid off as President Biden announced the deal, calling it “an important win for our economy and the American people.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Oil dips on weak demand fear, strong dollar

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General view of oil tanks and the Bayway Refinery of Phillips 66 in Linden, New Jersey, U.S., March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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  • U.S. railroad strike averted by late-night deal
  • Strong dollar weighs as Fed decision looms over broader markets
  • IEA says oil demand growth to slow in Q4
  • Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes lend support -analyst

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Oil futures fell over 3% to a one-week low on Thursday on a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, expectations for weaker global demand and continued U.S. dollar strength ahead of a potentially large interest rate increase.

Brent futures fell $3.26, or 3.5%, to settle at $90.84 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended $3.38, or 3.8%, lower at $85.10, the lowest closes for both benchmarks since Sept. 8.

Major U.S. railroads and unions secured a tentative deal after 20 hours of intense talks brokered by President Joe Biden’s administration to avert a rail shutdown that could have hit food and fuel supplies across the country and beyond. read more

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The prospect of a strike lent the market some support on Wednesday.

That rail deal also helped pressure U.S. diesel and gasoline futures to drop more than 5% during the session.

“The oil complex is drafting back down on U.S. dollar strength and the tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail workers strike,” analysts at energy consulting firm Ritterbusch and Associates said, noting crack spreads were weak.

The U.S. 3:2:1 crack spread – a measure of refining profit margins – was on track for its lowest close since early March.

Downside risks continue to dominate the global economic outlook and some countries are expected to slip into recession in 2023, but it is too early to say if there will be a widespread global recession, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). read more

World Bank Chief Economist Indermit Gill said he was concerned about “generalized stagflation,” a period of low growth and high inflation, in the global economy, noting the bank had pared back forecasts for three-fourths of all countries. read more

Wall Street indexes (.SPX), (.IXIC) were in the red while the dollar (.DXY) held near the 20-year high it hit on Sept. 6 as a slew of economic data pointed to resilience in the U.S. economy which could keep the Federal Reserve on track for aggressive interest rate hikes. [nL4N30M33J] read more

A strong dollar reduces demand for oil by making the fuel more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

“Oil fundamentals are still mostly bearish as China’s demand outlook remains a big question mark and as the inflation fighting Fed seems poised to weaken the U.S. economy,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

Crude prices have dropped substantially after a surge close to its all-time highs in March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added to supply concerns, pressured by the prospects of recession and weaker demand.

Other factors weighing on oil prices included an increase in U.S. crude inventories and an expected reduction in energy use by the Ethereum blockchain. [EIA/S] read more

The European Union’s executive, meanwhile, plans to raise more than 140 billion euros ($140 billion) to shield consumers from soaring energy prices by skimming off revenue from low-cost electricity generators and making fossil fuel firms share windfall profit. read more

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Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York
Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Muyu Xu in Singapore
Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Scott Disavino

Thomson Reuters

Covers the North American power and natural gas markets.

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U.S. Northeast faces potential energy shortages as rails start to shut

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Unused oil tank cars are pictured on Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad tracks outside Hinsdale, New York August 24, 2015. Picture taken August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario/File Photo

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NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Some trains carrying fuel components to the U.S. Northeast have been halted in preparation for a possible railroad shutdown in the coming days, two sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

The northernmost East Coast states rely on railroad shipments to supplement pipeline deliveries from the U.S. Gulf. The region is among the largest fuel consumers in the nation, where U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that in July inventories of heating oil and diesel reached the lowest levels in at least three decades.

Major railroads, including Union Pacific (UNP.N) and Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRKa.N) BNSF, must reach a tentative deal with three unions representing 60,000 workers before 12:01 a.m. on Friday to avert a shutdown.

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Unit trains to the Northeast that carry commodities including ethanol and crude oil have already stopped, two sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

All railroads are preparing to wind down operations in the next day, said a spokesperson at Norfolk Southern (NSC.N) who declined to comment further. Passenger rail operator Amtrak has already canceled all long-distance routes nationwide as their trains run largely on freight lines outside of the U.S. Northeast. read more

Nationwide, stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are at their lowest levels seasonally since 2000, according to EIA data.

The situation is more dire in New England and the Central Atlantic states. In that region, stretching from Maine to Maryland, stocks are at 16.6 million barrels, lowest seasonally since the EIA started keeping the data in 1990.

Fuel distributors generally have inventories to last several days and those markets can also receive imports, but prices would be expected to rise in anticipation of a possible shortage.

Some shippers, anticipating a shutdown, have already stopped transporting hazardous materials around the United States, including fuel blending components.

“I already have companies that have been limiting their production knowing this was coming and now they’ll have to face the music and shut down,” said Tom Williamson, a railcar broker and owner of Transportation Consultants, which manages over 2,000 railcars.

He said he has been busy the past few days communicating with clients who are starting to shut down production of hazardous materials.

The upper Northeast relies on rail for shipments of crude oil, natural gas and fuel products more than other regions because of a lack of pipelines. New England receives most of the natural gas it uses to heat homes and light stoves by rail, according to consultancy RBN Energy, making it vulnerable to a stoppage.

“Over the past 20 years, regional imbalances between where products are produced and where they are demanded has increased,” said Debnil Chowdhury, vice president, Americas head of refining and marketing, S&P Global Commodity Insights. “This has increased the need to transfer products from the Gulf Coast to the (Northeast).”

Pipelines carrying fuel and natural gas from Texas and other oil and gas-producing states of the U.S. South are already full, Chowdhury said, leaving little room to increase flows on the lines if a shutdown happens.

“All sorts of stuff is going to grind to a halt,” said one executive familiar with the region’s rail operations, who asked not to be named. “It’s going to be brutal.”

In July, governors of New England states wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm warning her that the region faced surging winter heating bills due to lack of natural gas pipeline connectivity.

They also asked the Biden Administration to suspend the Jones Act, which requires goods moved between U.S. ports to be carried by ships built domestically and staffed by U.S. crew, for the delivery of LNG for at least a portion of the upcoming winter.

In 2021, the six-state New England region got most of its power, or 46%, from natural gas, according to ISO New England, the region’s power grid operator. On the coldest winter days, the grid relies on oil as well to fuel a much bigger percentage of power generation.

Nationwide, shippers for oil and chemical companies are making contingency plans.

“We are starting to see impacts already,” said Chris Ball, chief executive officer of Quantix, a Houston-based company that provides trucks and trailers to transport chemicals for companies including Exxon Mobil, Dow and LyondellBasell.

“They (railroads) have already restricted what they’re taking and so we’re getting a fair amount of trucking orders across our whole network,” Ball said.

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Reporting by Laila Kearney, Laura Sanicola and Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Laura Sanicola

Thomson Reuters

Reports on oil and energy, including refineries, markets and renewable fuels. Previously worked at Euromoney Institutional Investor and CNN.

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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee Narrowly Wins Democratic Primary

McKee edged out former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, who saw a late surge in the polls and won an endorsement from The Boston Globe’s editorial board.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee eked out a victory in his Democratic primary on Tuesday, beating back strong challenges from a pair of opponents as he seeks his first full term in office.

McKee, the former lieutenant governor who became the state’s chief executive a year and a half ago when two-term Gov. Gina Raimondo was tapped as U.S. commerce secretary, will be the heavy favorite in the liberal state in November against Republican Ashley Kalus, a business owner and political novice.

McKee edged out former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, who saw a late surge in the polls and won a last-minute endorsement from The Boston Globe’s editorial board. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who was seeking to become the first Latina governor in New England, finished a close third.

“I’m proud to be here,” the 71-year-old governor said in his victory speech. “Because Rhode Island is positioned in a way where we’ve never had this momentum before and we’re going to take full advantage of it.”

In an awkward moment, a phone was handed toward McKee during the speech. When he was told it was Foulkes, McKee said, “No, that’s not going to happen.” As the crowd chanted “four more years,” McKee said, “Hang up on them, hang up on them.”

Foulkes told her supporters she was unhappy McKee wouldn’t answer her call.

In the last primaries before the November general election, voters in Rhode Island were choosing nominees for statewide offices, U.S. House, the state Legislature and local positions. New Hampshire and Delaware also held primaries on Tuesday.

With his victory, McKee avoided becoming the first governor to lose his primary since 2018, when Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer narrowly lost the Republican nomination to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who went on to lose the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly. Like McKee, Colyer took over when the sitting governor resigned for another job.

In his campaign, McKee touted his leadership in navigating the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic after he was sworn in as governor in March 2021. Foulkes said she would work to find new ways for companies to invest in Rhode Island and help existing companies find new markets. Gorbea argued the state needed better leadership on issues like housing, education and climate change.

Besides McKee, Foulkes and Gorbea, two other Democrats were also seeking the nomination: former Secretary of State Matt Brown, a progressive; and community activist Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz.

Kalus easily defeated her lone Republican rival, Jonathan Riccitelli, whom the Globe reported had been arrested dozens of times since 2000 under a different name, on charges ranging from obstructing police officers to assault, according to court records.

Kalus, who owns a COVID-19 testing company that’s in a dispute with the state over a canceled contract, moved to Rhode Island last year from Illinois and previously worked for former Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. She said Rhode Island needs a fighter like her, now more than ever, because every day gets harder for working families.

In another top race on Tuesday, voters were choosing nominees in the 2nd Congressional District for the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin, who is retiring after more than 20 years representing the district. Langevin was the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress.

State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who was endorsed by Langevin, won the crowded Democratic primary. Republican Allan Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, was unopposed in his bid for the Republican nomination. National Republican leaders think this is their best chance to flip the seat in more than three decades. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy visited Rhode Island in August to raise money for Fung.

Magaziner had been running for governor but switched races after Langevin’s announcement to try to keep the seat in Democratic control. Magaziner told supporters Tuesday night that the election is about values and preserving democracy for the next generation.

In the 1st Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. David Cicilline will face Republican Allen Waters in November. Both were unopposed Tuesday. Cicilline is seeking his seventh term.

But the top race in Rhode Island on Tuesday was the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Both McKee and Gorbea benefited from the base of support and name recognition they have gotten since both were elected to statewide office in 2014. Foulkes proved to be an adept fundraiser and spent heavily on the race in her first bid for public office.

Late in the primary, Gorbea’s campaign aired an attack ad to criticize McKee over the awarding of a controversial state contract that the FBI is now investigating. It had to pull the ad because of errors in it, including featuring an article by a conservative commentator who was criticizing McKee on another issue. McKee’s campaign said the governor would continue to rise above dirty politics and false attacks, and show “leadership when it matters most.”

McKee was endorsed by a host of large unions, including those representing teachers, firefighters, building trades and auto workers. He highlighted his efforts to help the state’s economy recover from COVID-19, the gun control bills he signed into law and his efforts to protect access to abortion care.

He had a memorable ad of his own, called “motha,” featuring his 94-year-old mother. As he plays cards with her, he discusses the state’s economic recovery from COVID-19, eliminating the state’s car tax, creating affordable housing and passing gun safety laws to keep families safe.

“Not bad for a year and a half,” the governor says.

His mother, Willa, replies, “Not bad for a governor that lives with his motha.”

During his victory speech, McKee ticked off his accomplishments and asked the crowd, “Are you ready?” He said, “Not bad for 18 months.” Laughing, some of his supporters said Willa’s line, “Not bad for a governor that lives with his mother.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Possible Railroad Worker Strike Could Upend U.S. Supply Chain

There are 60,000 workers in two unions still demanding pay and time off concessions from rail lines, with no deal on the table yet.

As trains barrel across rail lines coast to coast, a labor dispute is barreling toward an end-of-week deadline that could derail the country’s shipping industry and upend commerce in a multi-billion-dollar strike.

Rail lines and the country’s two largest rail unions still can’t agree on pay and time off, leaving some 60,000 workers ready to leave the job Friday unless they get a deal.

“The companies have very demanding schedules,” said Andy Borchers, business professor at Lipscomb University. “There will be a variety of products that’ll be affected, and we may not even know for sure exactly which ones those are until the breakdown happens.”

At the White House Tuesday, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration is working on contingency plans to keep moving whatever goods they can, but still pushing aggressively to avoid a strike altogether.

“A shutdown is not acceptable,” Jean-Pierre said. “That is not something that we want. It risks harming families, farming, harming businesses and whole communities. We have made that clear, empathetically and repeatedly to both parties.”

The Association of American Railroads, a trade group that represents the major freight lines, says a strike could cost the country more than $2 billion a day.

The unions say BNSF and Union Pacific’s attendance policies make it difficult for workers to take time off, especially for medical appointments. The rail lines reject that argument.

The threat of strike comes as the U.S. supply chain grapples for ways to address the effects of the pandemic.

“The problem is there’s only one way in, and there’s only one way out, and it’s not efficient,” said Pete Buttigieg, Transportation Secretary.

Just last week, Buttigieg hailed plans for a new bridge in Los Angeles that would allow more freight to leave the city’s log-jammed port.

“These improvements are expected to reduce trucking delays by almost 2,500 truck hours every single day,” Buttigieg said. “It’s going to allow freight trains to move goods more rapidly, and yes, that’s part of the fight against inflation because it can help reduce shipping costs and the cost of goods.”

But port leaders have said for months a shortage of rail workers has made getting containers off their terminals difficult.

The fight is part of a larger, global trend as rail workers in the U.K. forced a strike late last month, likely to resume after Queen Elizabeth’s state funeral.

“Before we even get onto pay, we have to sort out job security, which we haven’t done,” said Mick Lynch, secretary-general of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union.

Airlines, trucking lines and major corporations from retail to commerce are now used to a new era of workers demanding higher pay and better working conditions, plus the workers are ready to unionize and strike if they don’t get what they want.

Source: newsy.com

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Thousands Of Minnesota Nurses Launch 3-Day Strike Over Pay

Some 15,000 nurses in Minneapolis and Duluth are seeking a more than 30% pay increase, while hospitals have offered 10%-12% over three years.

Thousands of nurses in Minnesota launched a three-day strike Monday, pressing for salary increases they say will help improve patient care by resolving understaffing stresses that have worsened in the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 15,000 nurses at seven health care systems in the Minneapolis and Duluth areas walked out, a number the union says makes it the largest strike ever by private-sector nurses. The affected hospitals said they have recruited temporary nurses and expected to maintain most services.

Scores of nurses began walking the picket line at 7 a.m. outside Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, one of 15 hospitals affected. Clad in the red T-shirts of the Minnesota Nurses Association and carrying signs with such slogans as, “Something has got to give,” several said their chief concern was patient safety.

Tracey Dittrich, 50, a registered nurse at the hospital for nearly 24 years, said nurses are tired of “hospital administrators and managers that are telling us to do more.” The hospitals need more nurses and more support staff, and higher pay will help, she said.

“There are shifts where you have three critically ill patients, and you have to decide which patient gets the care, when,” Dittrich said. “I work with people all the time that go home every day and feel horrible because one child had to wait longer for medication, or another child needed to wait longer for an IV. Another child maybe had to wait for a breathing treatment because we just couldn’t get to them all fast enough.”

Union spokesman Sam Fettig said the nurses chose a three-day strike, rather than an open-ended walkout, out of concern for patients.

The hospitals have offered a 10%-12% wage increase over three years, but nurses are seeking more than 30%. Hospital leaders called their wage demands unaffordable, noting that Allina and Fairview hospitals have posted operating losses and that the cost of such sharp wage increases would be passed along to patients.

“The union rejected all requests for mediation and held fast to wage demands that were unrealistic, unreasonable and unaffordable,” several of the Twin Cities hospitals under strike said in a joint statement.

The statement said people with emergency issues should continue to call 911 or go to emergency rooms. It said despite staffing hospitals with “experienced nurse managers, trained replacement nurses and some existing traveler nurses” that people may see some delay in being treated.

Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United, billed as the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in the U.S., said more nurses across the country are pushing back and that most job actions revolve around the same core issues — staffing and pay.

“The pandemic did so many things in pointing out, clarifying and shining a light on what life is like in the hospitals and what nurses are expected to do, which is a lot with very little,” Ross said. “We have to have a bottom line where you just can’t shove any more patients on to that nurse.”

Kathy Misk, another registered nurse at Children’s, works in case management and helps families transition from hospital care to caring for their child at home. Misk said a shortage of nurses has sometimes required keeping “high-tech” children – those who need special equipment to breathe, for example – from going home as soon as they otherwise could. Raising pay could help the hospital keep nurses on staff, she said.

“You don’t retain nurses with low wages,” Misk said. “When you incentivize nurses with pay, what you’re saying to them is they have worth, and they are able to stay in one job.”

When asked about Misk’s statement that some children have not gone home as soon as they might have, Nick Petersen, a spokesman for Children’s, said children are admitted or discharged “based on the expert judgment of the medical professionals who care for them.”

The hospitals affected by the strike are operated by Allina Health, M Health Fairview, Children’s Hospital, North Memorial and HealthPartners. In Duluth, it is Essentia and St Luke’s.

Separately, in Wisconsin, a potential three-day strike by nurses at UW Health, one of the state’s largest health systems, that was set to start Tuesday was averted when the nurses and the UW Hospital board reached an agreement. Details weren’t immediately released.

The Minnesota nurses’ strike comes amid an upsurge in union activity nationwide.

A national railroad strike could begin as early as Friday unless Congress steps in to block it. The two largest railroad unions have been demanding that the major freight carriers go beyond a proposed deal recommended by arbitrators appointed by President Joe Biden.

Some high-profile companies, including Starbucks, are among those trying to stifle ongoing unionization efforts. Since late last year, more than 230 U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, which Starbucks opposes.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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