NPGA among groups calling for rail system stability

November 1, 2022 By    

Concern about the stability of U.S. rail networks, which play a vital logistical role in the supply and distribution of propane, is growing amid a labor dispute between the nation’s freight railroads and tens of thousands of union workers.

The dispute has been ongoing since summer, creating fears about how a strike and railway shutdown would hamper the U.S. economy – not to mention the movement of propane supplies as the winter heating season gets underway. In July, the Biden administration intervened by naming members of an emergency board to help bring the sides together.

The parties reached a tentative agreement on Sept. 15, with six of the 12 national rail unions having ratified the deal as of Oct. 24. Two unions rejected it, causing concern that others could follow. Reportedly all 12 unions must accept the deal to ensure rail operations continue without interruption.

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) signed a letter from the National Retail Federation, joining more than 300 trade associations calling on the White House to play an active role in ensuring the stability of the rail system.

Dated Oct. 27, the letter urges the Biden administration “to continue to work with the railroad unions and railroads to ensure that the tentative agreement that you helped broker is ratified by the parties. It is paramount that these contracts now be ratified, as a rail shutdown would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy and lead to further inflationary pressure.”

The labor unions and the Class 1 carriers remain in a “cooling off period” until at least Nov. 19, says NPGA, adding it will work with industry stakeholders to mitigate impacts on the propane industry.

On Nov. 2, NPGA followed the National Retail Federation letter with its own. In a letter to President Joe Biden, key administration officials and congressional leadership, NPGA President and CEO Steve Kaminski writes, “As negotiations continue between the Class 1 railroads and the related rail unions, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) encourages you to proactively ensure service continues beyond the Nov. 19, 2022, cooling-off deadline. With harvest well underway across the country, and parts of the U.S. projected to experience below-average temperatures, any disruption to the propane supply chain could have catastrophic consequences.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to report the latest letter sent by NPGA.

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About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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