WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of stranded rail commuters. Plants shut down because parts aren't being delivered. Utilities low on coal.
Suddenly, these scenes are real possibilities with the threat of a national rail strike on April 17.
Although talks are continuing, every sign points to a strike.
"There's a better than 90 percent chance we'll have a nationwide strike," said an executive with a major railroad.
For nearly three years, the 14 largest freight railroads and 11 unions have haggled over every issue that traditionally divides labor and management. Sticking points remain over wages, work rules and health and welfare plans.