Just when employees thought the fight was over, Union Pacific announced it would delay their Palestine shop closure by 14 days due to legal developments.
On Thursday employees received notification stating, “Due to recent legal developments, Union Pacific is delaying the Palestine shop closure to June 25. We will continue operations until that point. If there are further developments we will communicate them as we are made aware.”
Palestine railroad employees were notified on June 3 they would be furloughed, effective end of shift June 14, they were told verbally on June 8 that June 10 would be their last day.
The city of Palestine and Anderson County and Union Pacific are currently embroiled in a legal battle that will decide the future of Union Pacific’s railroad facility in Palestine.
At present, Union Pacific must employ 0.52% of its office and shop employees in Palestine, which according to the 1954 Agreement, includes the following classifications: executives, officials and staff assistants; professional, clerical and general; maintenance of equipment and stores; transportation, other than train, engine and yard; and transportation, yardmasters, switch tenders and hostlers.
In the current lawsuit, Union Pacific alleges that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995 preempts the 1872 Agreement and asked the court to void its obligations to Palestine.
Union Pacific Railroad met with Palestine staff April 15 and told them they have 60 days until the Palestine car facility closes. Union Pacific said in a statement it has been accelerating its continuous improvement plan and implementing Precision Scheduled Railroading principles undertaking operational changes across its system. One of those operational changes is the closing of its main car repair facility in Palestine. The closure of the Palestine car repair facility will result in the abolishment of as many as 57 positions.