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Key Rail Union Rejects Contract, Strike Threatens U.S. Economy; Russian Senator: West Can't Arm Ukraine And Call For Peace; Minnesota Pediatric Hospitals Filled By Flu And RSV Cases. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 05:30   ET




WHITNEY WILD, CNN ANCHOR: A nationwide freight rail strike that could wreak havoc on the U.S. economy is a step closer to reality this morning. A key union turned down a tentative labor contract.

We'll get more from CNN's Matt Egan.


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER (on camera): America faces the growing risk of a crippling rail strike just two weeks from now. The nation's largest rail union announced Monday its rank-and-file members have rejected a tentative labor deal that was reached in September with freight railroads.

All 12 rail unions have now completed their ratification process but only eight unions backed the deal. Four are against it. And even if just one of the dozen rail unions go on strike, the other 11 -- they would honor the picket line, shutting down the railroads.

A prolonged freight strike could cause mayhem for the economy. Leading retailers warned on Monday that a strike would amount to a self- inflicted economic disaster -- one that would disrupt the flow of goods nationally. They say that means spoiled food, online shopping delivery delays, and worsening inflation. The National Retail Federation called on Congress to immediately intervene to avoid a catastrophe.


And for now, the four unions that have voted no -- they will remain on the job until at least early next month while talks are held to avoid a strike. But if new deals are not reached in time, Congress may be forced to decide whether to order rail workers to remain on the job or return to work.

A strike would come at a delicate time for the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic scrambled supply chains that have only just began to move back towards normal. Inflation remains very high, and recession fears have bubbled up as central banks race to get prices under control. A crippling rail strike might be the last thing the economy needs right now.

Back to you.


WILD: And the last thing -- Matt Egan, thank you. And the last thing consumers want, certainly.

OK, it's Thanksgiving week. If you haven't already traveled, you might be traveling today, you might be traveling tomorrow, you're thinking about traveling. People coming to you. It's on everybody's mind.

And that is especially true because there were these massive meltdowns over the summer, and so there's a lot of concern that there's going to be another wave of meltdowns are more people take to the air to fly. So airlines are trying to avoid this. They are in the midst of a huge hiring spree.

CNN's Pete Muntean has more on all that.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION AND TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Airlines have been preparing for the rush at airports with a rush all their own, hiring thousands of new workers from the front desk to the flight deck.

Twenty-four-year-old Elly Gull (PH) is about to follow in her dad's footsteps as a new commercial pilot.

ELLY GULL, COMMERCIAL PILOT: This is probably one of the best times in history to become a pilot.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Elly is joining Piedmont Airlines, which operates thousands of regional flights for American Airlines. At its Charlotte training center, 400 new pilots have been trained here since June.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have real ambitions to grow the airline and essentially double the size of the airline.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Seasoned pilots are also in demand. Piedmont just announced a $100,000 signing bonus for new captains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The opportunities have never been better.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): New industry numbers show staffing at the major airlines has not exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The hiring blitz comes after airlines struggled this summer, canceling 55,000 flights due, in part, to staffing shortages.

But hiring is happening beyond just pilots. American Airlines says it has hired 12,000 employees this year company-wide. Southwest Airlines says it has hired more than 15,000. And at United Airlines, 2,000 new customer service representatives are helping passengers in new ways.

DEBBIE, CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE: This is Debbie speaking. May I help you?

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Called "agent on-demand," you scan a QR code for a video call. Agents can now connect with a stranded passenger at O'Hare when they are not busy at another airport like Dulles.

DEBBIE: I think this is going to be a great help, especially now that we're having snow everywhere.

DEBBIE REYNOLDS, CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE, UNITED AIRLINES: We want to be there for our customers and support them, make it easy, and just make them feel good about the trip and take off some of the stress.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Airlines insist they now have the right people in the right places. Now the pressure is on them to perform.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Are you worried at all?

NICK CALIO, CEO, AIRLINES FOR AMERICA: I'm worried about the weather. I always worry about the weather because that's the number one thing that can ruin a flight. I think we're flexible enough now that if there are cancellations or delays we will be ready to try to get people to where they're going to go.


WILD: Pete Muntean, thank you.

The holiday season is officially underway and that always kicks off with the official turkey pardon. President Biden serving up some jokes on the White House lawn yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So the votes are in. They've been counted and verified. There's no ballot stuffing. There's no foul play. The only red wave this season is going to be a German Shepherd -- Commander -- who knocks over the cranberry sauce on our table.

I hereby pardon -- yes. I hereby pardon Chocolate and Chip.


WILD: Gentle ribbing from President Biden.

Later that day, the president and the first lady, Jill Biden, went to North Carolina to thank troops for their service. That was during a Friendsgiving dinner.


BIDEN: Your parents, when you're deployed, they don't know. Your spouses don't know for sure. Every single day they worry about you -- every single moment. And so, we owe them, too. We owe them a big debt of gratitude. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WILD: Absolutely true.

After his remarks, Biden moved to the buffet line where he joked that he was serving mashed potatoes, so come on down.

All right, switching gears now to the latest on a really horrific crash in Massachusetts. One person is dead; another 19 injured. That was after a dark-colored SUV just barreled into an Apple store Monday. The car slammed into several people inside that store and pinned some people against the wall. Police say multiple people were also injured in the front of the store.

The man who died is 65-year-old Kevin Bradley of New Jersey.

The driver has not yet been identified and police are conducting a criminal investigation into that case.


Well, after a really horrible gasoline fire that left him with burns on his hands, face, and chest, Jay Leno is out of the hospital. The former "TONIGHT SHOW" host, again, was hospitalized after that incident that happened in his garage earlier this month. He was discharged from the Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles on Monday. Here he is smiling with his care team -- in good spirits, it looks like.

Leno needed two surgical procedures to treat his injuries. This is not the end of the road, though. He is going to need a lot of follow-up care for those burns.

A senior Russian lawmaker warning that the West is calling for peace while supplying weapons to Ukraine and those are opposite, unusually exclusive actions.

So let's go live to CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow. Fred, what is the message from this Russian senator?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Russians are essentially saying, Whitney, that they believe it's the West that continues to fuel this conflict rather than themselves.

This was a reaction to what the NATO secretary-general had said before, where he said that he believes that NATO nations -- the Western nations need to be in it for the long haul as far as supporting Ukraine is concerned. And then you have Konstantin Kosachev who is a very senior senator here in Russia -- very well-known in this country -- who said he believed that was actually the opposite of trying to seek peace in Ukraine.

Obviously, all of this comes as the Russians have just recently said that they've actually mobilized another 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine. And Vladimir Putin says it's even more than that because there's also some people who are voluntarily signing up. Also, of course, the Russians pouring military gear into Ukraine.

So, it certainly seems to be an interesting message there coming from that Russian politician.

And also, if you look at what's going on overnight, the Ukrainians are saying that there were several Ukrainian towns that were shelled by the Russians. We can see the map here -- especially in the south around that town Kryvyi Rih. There's a place called Nikopol that was shelled by the Russians. That's very close to a very key nuclear power plant.

So certainly, it seems as though the Russians, on the one hand, are keeping the war going on in full force, shelling a lot of places across that entire front line while, at the same time, blaming the West for allegedly fueling the conflict, Whitney.

WILD: Fred Pleitgen, thank you.

RSV and influenza are forcing hospitals to operate well over capacity. Sick children waiting in long lines to get seen. That story coming up next.

Also, Elon Musk pumping the brakes on the relaunch of Twitter's blue check service. We'll explain why coming up.



WILD: Pediatric ICUs have been operating over capacity for weeks. At Children's Minnesota Hospital, an earlier-than-usual influenza season and an RSV outbreak are compounding with severe staffing and medical shortages.

So let's bring in Dr. Robert Sicoli. He's the medical director of the emergency department at Children's Minnesota.

So, the first question for you is what is the situation there?

DR. ROBERT SICOLI, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF EMERGENCY SERVICES, CHILDREN'S MINNESOTA (via Webex by Cisco): Yes. You know, for the past six to eight weeks here at Children's Minnesota -- like other large pediatric healthcare organizations across the state and across the country, and other systems in our state and the Upper Midwest -- we've been seeing an unusual and atypical increase in the number of children who require hospitalization for RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).

WILD: So what are the symptoms that are different for younger kids versus older kids? Because we typically -- I mean, my kids are six, four, and two, and I typically think of RSV as a virus that affects little -- really little kids and babies.

SICOLI: Right.

WILD: I never considered that an older child might be susceptible to that. So what should we be looking for?

SICOLI: Yes. You -- I think you hit it right on the head.

For older children and -- the symptoms are basically a common cold. For younger children, the kids get this significant amount of nasal congestion and nasal drainage, some cough, fever. And in young children, it can interfere with their ability to breast or bottle feed and lead to issues with dehydration and whatnot.

And when these kids get -- most of the time, RSV can be treated at home with fever control, supportive care, suctioning the secretions out of a -- out of an infant's nose, plenty of rest, plenty of fluids.

But what we're seeing is these kids are -- they're getting sicker and this has been a severe season, as well as an early season. And they're landing in primary care offices, in our emergency departments, and in great numbers.

WILD: How do you know when this is something that you can manage at home and when you really need to go to the emergency room?

SICOLI: Yes. You know, in a young child, the -- if they're breathing very rapidly, working very hard to breathe, laboring. Sometimes you can see the spaces between their ribs in and out, or their -- or their nasal flaring. If they're becoming dehydrated -- they can't eat or drink or if you just -- as a parent, you just feel that something's wrong, you should give your primary care clinic a call, a local nurse line, and seek some guidance.

WILD: Oh, it's so frightening. Any parent -- new parent --

SICOLI: Right.

WILD: -- with a baby. I've been there where you're counting the breathing for a minute. I mean, it's just -- it's really frightening.

What are you guys doing at the hospital to try to manage this overwhelming flood of patients who are coming in with these severe symptoms while you're dealing with this staffing shortage?


SICOLI: Yes. You know, I think -- so -- well, as expected, our staff is working very hard -- long hours. We have increased capacity in our outpatient clinics, our walk-in clinics. We've set up adjacent fast- track areas next to our emergency departments to try to accommodate the -- this unusual surge in patients.

We've also stood up a rapid improvement team. We're a multidisciplinary group of leaders. We're looking at identifying and developing somewhat more novel strategies -- alternative care models to care -- to care for these children. And I think that -- and I think we're doing that, and a lot of other hospitals are doing that across the state and across the country. We've also been fortunate here in Minnesota to have some very nice

collaboration and coordination with our other health systems across the state. We have a daily call where we kind of identify who has an ICU bed, who doesn't. And these healthcare systems are cooperating nicely and I'm hopeful that will continue after the current surge of patients.

WILD: Is there a good -- a website you can recommend or resource you can recommend to parents? Because I have found myself Googling in the middle of the night and you're terrified. And so, what should parents -- where can parents go for more information -- you know, to check off some questions that we weren't able to ask this morning?

SICOLI: Yes. You know, as a -- as a pediatrician and a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I think your first step is always the American Academy of Pediatrics. Their sites are always -- there's good content, it's evidence-based, and you can -- you can never go wrong there.

WILD: OK, great.

Dr. Robert Sicoli, thank you so much.

Looking at --

SICOLI: Thank you.

WILD: Looking at markets around the world, Asian stocks are mixed this morning. Markets in Europe, though, up. On Wall Street, all three futures markets are up.

On Monday, stocks retreated as Thanksgiving weekend -- or Thanksgiving week, rather, kicked off. The Dow and the S&P were down about a fraction. The Nasdaq slid just about one percent. The big concern remains this possibility of more interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.

A bright spot on Disney, though. Shares there closed up more than six percent after a surprise announcement that Bob Iger would return as the company's CEO.

Twitter is holding off on relaunching its blue check subscription service. Elon Musk says that plan on hold until the company is quote "sure that significant impersonations can be prevented." Musk's rapid rollout of Twitter's paid verification prompted a flood of accounts posing as well-known brands and celebrities.

The blue checkmark has been around for a while now and basically, it's really the only proof you can get on social media that these accounts really are who they say they are. The only authenticity out there is this blue checkmark on Twitter. So this is a big deal because government officials, government agencies, prominent figures, and journalists rely on this blue check so that people know that what they're saying is authentic and that they are who they say they are. So, more to learn on that. All right, just ahead, a halftime puppy race didn't go quite as planned. The Indiana Pacers trying to figure it all out there, but it was still absolutely adorable. We'll show you the rest of the video coming up next.



WILD: Welcome back.

The 49ers surged into a tie for first place in their division with a blowout win over the Cardinals in Mexico City.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Bring us up to speed.


It's been fun to see the NFL kind of go around the world. And there's a little bit of good luck, Whitney, with this as well because it's always good to get a win in the NFL, but it is great to get a win in Mexico City. Four of the last six teams to play a regular season game at that stadium there have reached the playoffs, and the two most recent winners both earned trips to the Super Bowl in those seasons. So maybe some good luck.

The 49ers looked like a team on a mission -- that's for sure. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo leading the way. He put on a show in primetime throwing four touchdown passes, including two each to Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. And it was arguably San Francisco's best offensive performance of the season. The Niners win their third game in a row -- 38-10 the final there.

The Brown University baseball team is making history long before the first pitch of the season will be thrown. Eighteen-year-old freshman Olivia Pichardo was added to the team yesterday. She is the first woman in history to be on an active division one college baseball roster.

The Queens, New York native began playing in kindergarten at age five. She went on to play for her high school before trying out as a walk-on at Brown. So a big congratulations to her.

And a halftime show fail, Whitney, but this was the sweetest one that we have ever seen. The Pacers hosting the Magic on Monday. Pacers cheerleaders trying in earnest to get a puppy race going -- that's what this was billed as -- but the competitors missed the memo about the racing part. Instead, they just looked adorable in their jerseys -- doggone adorable.

And one of our studio crew made mention of the fact that they were wearing diapers. These are babies, so waiting for their forever home. But just couldn't get them going. Couldn't hit the start button. Still very, very cute.

WILD: Where are the treats? Where's the bacon?

MANNO: You know what?

WILD: What is this, their first rodeo?

MANNO: You know, it might be. You bring up a great point. You need a little bit of jerky maybe.

WILD: You need incentive.

MANNO: Yes, and then you just -- you know, and then you just pick them up. You just pick them up and bring them --

WILD: Exactly.

MANNO: -- to the finish line. It's all in good fun.

WILD: It's a team effort at that point because then it's really about the human shuffle speed.


WILD: Did you grow up with dogs?


WILD: So did I.

MANNO: I have a lab at home, Grace. She's adorable.

WILD: How old is she?

MANNO: Yes, she's seven now -- yes. She's getting up there.

WILD: What's her name?

MANNO: Grace.

WILD: Grace.


WILD: Good morning to you, Grace.

All right, Carolyn Manno, thank you so much.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Whitney Wild. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.