April 16, 2021 - TRA Newswire -
The Union Pacific Palestine Main Car Facility in East Texas will close down June 14, according to the railroad, resulting in a loss of up to 57 jobs. Limited car repair activities will continue in the area.
Union Pacific filed notice with the Texas Workforce Commission and County Judge Robert Johnston, stating “In an effort to provide for Union Pacific’s long-term success, the railroad has been accelerating its continuous improvement plan and implementing Precision Scheduled Railroading principles. As a continuation of our efforts to run an efficient railroad consistent without Unified Plan program, we are undertaking operational changes across our system. The operational changes will require Union Pacific to close its Main Car Repair Facility in Palestine. However, limited car repair activities will continue in the Palestine area. The closure of the Main Car Repair Facility will result in the abolishment of as many as 57 positions. Therefore, Union Pacific is providing you this notice in accordance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.”
Affected employees would be able to bid on other Union Pacific jobs based on seniority rights. All other employees who are unable to obtain a position and laid off will be paid all wages and agreed-upon fringe benefits for 60 days after April 15, according the UP. A railroad spokesperson said the workforce reduction is the result of operational changes across its system and is part of Union Pacific’s continuous effort to provide competitive rail service to its customers.
The city of Palestine and Anderson County had been involved in a long running legal battle with UP over the facility. In November 2019 Union Pacific filed suit in federal court to scrap a 1954 agreement that mandated how many employees would be employed at Palestine. Union Pacific argued that the agreement was in violation of federal law and could not be enforced. A federal judge ruled on February 3rd that Union Pacific Railroad was no longer bound to the 1954 agreement with the city of Palestine and Anderson County.
The county indicated that a letter of rehearing would be filed and, if denied, it would seek an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A predecessor railroad to UP originally signed a contract in 1872 that established a rail hub in Palestine after the city raised $150,000 in bonds. The contract stipulated that the railroad would retain a facility with a set number of employees based on the total company employee count.