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Possible railroad worker strike could lead to greater supply issues

Thousands of railroad workers are ready to strike starting Friday if they do not get a new deal.

CLEVELAND — Thousands of railroad workers are set to hit the brakes on their jobs if their concerns aren't met with solutions.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that 4,900 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 19 voted to reject a tentative deal with the largest U.S. freight railroads. However, two ratified agreements and three others remained at the bargaining table just days ahead of a strike deadline.

The IAM agreed to delay any strike by its members until Sept. 29 to allow more time for negotiations and to allow other unions to vote.

Railroads are trying to reach an agreement with all their other unions to avert a strike before Friday’s deadline.  

The rail workers want a better quality of life and are concerned about 24/7 on-call schedules.

Max Fisher, Chief Economist of the National Grain and Feed Association, told 3News that the looming strike is already making an impact.

"It'll get worse each, each passing day," said Fisher.

To put in perspective how a rail strike might affect the Buckeye State, Kevin Landers from 3News' TEGNA sister station 10TV WBNS noted that when it comes to miles of railroad, Ohio ranks third in the nation only behind Illinois and Texas. According to Landers, Gov. Mike DeWine's office says it is monitoring the negotiations. 

From grain to gasoline, to groups of people boarding trains to go on vacation, the strike will be far reaching.

RELATED: How a freight rail strike would impact different industries

Gasbuddy analyst Patrick De Haan told 3News that refineries have enough supply to last a few days, but you could see a rise in prices at the pump.

"A strike lasting more than five to seven days could then start having an impact on prices," said De Haan.

The Biden administration is working to mediate a deal, but the clock is ticking. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is participating in the negotiations.

"It could get much worse if we get to 12:01 a.m. that Thursday night Friday morning," said Fisher.

AP Business Writer Josh Funk contributed to this story 

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