News & Reviews News Wire Union Pacific furloughs some shop and intermodal terminal workers as volume declines

Union Pacific furloughs some shop and intermodal terminal workers as volume declines

By Bill Stephens | August 24, 2023

The railroad's traffic is down 2% so far this year

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Locomotives sit outside Union Pacific’s shop at North Platte, Neb., in June 2018. Bill Stephens

OMAHA, Neb. — Union Pacific furloughed 94 mechanical employees at shops across the system this week due to soft traffic volumes and a higher number of locomotives placed in storage.

“As a routine part of business, we constantly examine our resources against volume needs. While some targeted furloughs are occurring in a handful of mechanical shops and an intermodal terminal, we are also hiring train crew professionals in several locations impacted by attrition and tight labor markets,” railroad spokeswoman Kristen South says. “The furloughs represent about 0.3% of all craft employees and 2% of mechanical craft employees.”

UP traffic is down 2% overall this year, largely due to a 5% drop in intermodal volume as consumers continue to spend on experiences rather than goods and retailers have been slow to restock their inventories.

The railroad placed 200 locomotives in storage in the second quarter, which UP says has further reduced the need for shop employees.

Nearly two-thirds of the temporary furloughs came from four locations: Kansas City, Mo.; Dolores, Calif.; North Platte, Neb.; and Pocatello, Idaho. The remainder of the furloughs were spread across nine facilities.

14 thoughts on “Union Pacific furloughs some shop and intermodal terminal workers as volume declines

  1. Powers that be require Amtrak to hire all UP mechanical workers with skills that can be used on locos and maybe a few passenger car specialists. 94 mechanical employees certainly could do enough work at CHI and other locations in west to get the P-42s up to snuff.

  2. Guess that Bill Stephens article was the absolute tripe everyone thought it was.

    Analysis: At Union Pacific, Vena the CEO will be different than Vena the COO
    By Bill Stephens | August 9, 2023

    1. I could not say it better.
      Vena knows only one railroading method: scorched-earth.
      He learned it from the master of Slash-and-Burn himself: the late E. Hunter Harrison (a.k.a. the Bane of Railroading).

  3. They hired a hatchet man CEO and he’s doing just what the Wall Street masters ordered. And it puffs the executive stock options.

    Nothing to see here, move along.

    1. His 2nd week, and already furloughs. I thought he’d be a little less obvious, but that’s out the window.

  4. Same-old Same-old Haven’t learned a thing. Got to keep wall street and the investors happy. The hell with the little people that keep the railroad running.

  5. Guess they’re not gonna take a page from Alan Shaw’s book and not lay people of when they have a downturn in traffic. people won’t wait around to get called back to work.

  6. Next traffic upturn I’m sure we will hear during an earnings report;
    “due to lack of employees we are having trouble meeting demand”

  7. Busine. ss as usual. Furlough, then be supprised when no one wants to come back. C-suite has not learned anything.

    1. Been there, done that. Unfortunately. Livin the hard way gettin railroaded. Was furloughed 7 months last time he was here.

    2. “Furlough, then be surprised when no one wants to come back.” That MIGHT not necessarily be a surprise, but rather a covert strategy to reduce forces. When UPRR took us (SPRR) over in a takeover merger in 11/96, I recall shortly afterwards that the Omaha system train dispatcher jobs were abolished and relocated to St. Louis. Some of those train dispatchers couldn’t make the move to St. Louis and were forced to resign. Then a couple years (???) later, the St. Louis train dispatchers were once again forced to move back to Omaha, another triage “vetting”???, or was this done to upgrade and expand the Omaha train dispatcher center due to mergers, making room for the other merged and district familiar dispatchers, such as one of our favorite former Tucson dispatchers I had routinely worked with. Or was it both of the above???

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