Rail unions agree to deal to prevent strike

Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022:

Rail labor unions agree to deal, staving off potential strike

Early Thursday morning, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh announced that, following 20 hours of face-to-face negotiations at his office in Washington, D.C., rail companies and union negotiators came to a tentative agreement that likely avoids an industry-wide strike tomorrow.

Walsh tweeted Thursday morning that the agreement “balances the needs of workers, businesses, and our nation’s economy."

President Joe Biden called the agreement a "win for the economy and for the American people. Rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs."

Pressure had been mounting on the White House to help side-step a potential nationwide railroad strike Friday morning that could have a polar vortex-like effect – or worse – on the U.S. supply chain, as much of a boon as it might have been short-term to some sagging spot freight markets. The rail industry last went on strike in 1991, a national work stoppage that lasted a day before Congress intervened. The following year, a walkout at USX by members of the International Association of Machinists spread nationally and lasted about two days before Congress, again, intervened. 

Walsh's office hosted rail’s two largest unions and the rail companies yesterday in an effort to keep all parties at the bargaining table and avoid a strike that trucking experts say would have affected on-highway transport "quickly" if not "immediately."

I-17 closure planned this weekend in Arizona

A project to improve the riding surface along both directions of Interstate 17 between Dunlap Avenue and Deer Valley Road in north Phoenix will start with a northbound freeway closure this weekend, Sept. 16-19, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Northbound I-17 will be closed between Thunderbird Road and Yorkshire Drive from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. Northbound I-17 on-ramps between Northern Avenue and Bell Road also will be closed.

The project will include the removal of the top layer of older, worn rubberized asphalt along stretches of I-17 during the initial stage of construction. The pavement removal work will take place during a series of weekend closures this fall. The entire project is scheduled for completion next summer, ADOT said.

Goodyear Highway Hero nomination period opens

In celebration of National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has announced the return of its annual Highway Hero Award, a program that celebrates professional truck drivers who act selflessly for the good of others on the highways across North America. 

Now through Dec. 31, the Goodyear Highway Hero Award program will recognize professional truck drivers through a call for online story submissions, asking the trucking community to nominate a driver in their life who demonstrated an extraordinary act of courage on the road.

“As routes take truck drivers to every corner of North America, many go above and beyond their regular duties, even serving as first responders to incidents that occur on our roads and highways,” said Gary Medalis, director of product development and marketing at Goodyear. “The Goodyear Highway Hero Award program is designed to express our gratitude for these hardworking truck drivers and to celebrate their incredible acts of bravery.”

Entries for the Goodyear Highway Hero Award program can be submitted here using the nomination form. Goodyear will determine an approved list of nominees from which a panel of judges will select the winner and two finalists.

Goodyear will announce the award winner in early 2023, honoring the driver with a cash prize, a Goodyear prize package and travel and hotel expense for a trip to Orlando for a winner announcement at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition in March 2023. Two runners up will also receive a cash prize and Goodyear prize packages.

Earlier this year, Goodyear recognized Gerald “Andy” Wright -- a truck driver from Jacksonville, Illinois who rescued and helped save the lives of motorists trapped in a burning vehicle -- as its 37th annual Highway Hero Award winner.

Eligible nominees for the 38th annual Highway Hero Award must be a full-time truck driver, reside in the U.S. or Canada, and the individual’s truck at the time of the incident must feature 12 wheels or more. Additionally, the act of courage must have occurred between Jan. 1, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2022. 

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