IC#x0026;E; rail workers inch closer to strike
An ongoing labor dispute between the Iowa, Chicago &; Eastern Railroad and its union could be inching closer toward a strike.
In a prepared statement, the Brotherhood of Locomotive, Engineers and Trainmen said the Federal Mediation Board has released the two parties from its oversight.
Calling the negotiations an "escalating labor dispute," the union said coal shipments on the line from Wyoming to the Mississippi River could potentially be disrupted.
The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based IC&E; is a short-line railroad that runs along the Mississippi River from Minneapolis through Austin to Muscatine, Iowa. It crosses much of northern Iowa from west to east.
The only meeting scheduled is one set up by the federal mediator for Thursday, said John Mullen, the union's short-line director. He said the union could strike before that, but acknowledged that might not be in the union's best interest.
Kevin Schieffer, the president of Cedar American Rail Holdings, which owns the IC&E; as well as the Dakota, Minnesota &; Eastern Railroad, said he hopes a compromise on a new contract can still be reached.
Employees have gotten pay raises and shortened work days in the past two years, he said.
"We made commitments and have lived up to all of them, and I think the employees understand this," Schieffer said.
If the union goes on strike, he said, the company will continue to run with its salaried workers.