PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KATV) — Union Pacific officials say they are working toward streamlining operations through regional consolidations and cutting cost to boost revenue, which has led to layoffs, reports KATV content partner Pine Bluff Commercial.
Layoffs for the company began in early February, according to a statement made by Union Pacific Senior Director for Corporate Communications and Media Relations Kristen South.
So far Union Pacific has not given specific numbers for the number of jobs that will be lost in the expected closure of the Pine Bluff shop.
One employee, who spoke under the condition of anonymity to the paper, said the railroad has laid off 37 machinists, 16 electricians, 18 laborers and four foremen for a total of 75 employees to date.
When it comes to the downfall of the shop, one employee of the company blames greed for the lost of jobs, saying “the worst part about all the layoffs is no one knows when or where they are coming or how many will be cut,” the employee said. “The company that once claimed to love and value their employees are cutting them at alarming rates and for what? Greed? Take a look at Union Pacific’s fourth-quarter earnings in 2018. Record profits and record safety, yet they lay off? Why? How?”
Layoffs were announced late last year, according to a November article in the Casper Star Tribune.
According to the article, Union Pacific eliminated 775 locomotives from its fleet by the end of 2018, despite reporting $1.6 billion in net earnings for 2018, which was a 33 percent increase from 2017s earnings, and the highest ever third quarter earnings in the history of the company.
White Hall Mayor Noel Foster said he is not happy about the layoffs.
“This is very unfortunate. The railroad has been a fixture in Jefferson County for as long as I can remember,” Foster said. “No family wants to go through that. We have a lot of UP employees who live here in White Hall, so this is very unfortunate. I hate that for any family. Anytime someone gets laid off from gainful employment it is hard on a family.”
Foster also says that he, Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington and Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson have to continue to work to bring jobs to the area.
“We don’t need families leaving our area for jobs. We have got to keep working to bring other jobs here. I think that Mayor Washington, Judge Robinson, and myself working with the Economic Development Alliance, we are working diligently trying to get more industries to locate here. It is a very difficult path, but I do know that everyone is working together to bring jobs here; hopefully, that will continue to happen so we can offset these types of losses when we lose jobs like the UP jobs," said Foster.
Read the full article on the Pine Bluff Commercial website.