UPRR Layoffs 2023 – Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) has not recently announced any layoffs across the country. However, in the past, they have conducted multiple rounds of layoffs.
Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) is a major U.S. transportation company. It has an extensive network covering 32,000 miles across 23 states. Despite its size, UPRR has faced challenges in recent years. These include lower rail traffic, increased competition, and investor pressure. To address these issues, the company has initiated a series of layoffs. So, it aimed at streamlining its operations and boosting efficiency.
Since 2020, UPRR has eliminated hundreds of employees. The layoffs at UPRR have affected various departments and locations. It has impacted both management and unionized employees. Workers in roles such as machinists, electricians, conductors, engineers, dispatchers, and terminal operators have been impacted. Additionally, many local communities rely on UPRR for employment and income.
UPRR said that these layoffs are necessary to adapt to changing market conditions. Moreover, this move helps to meet evolving customer demands. The company has extended opportunities to affected employees for alternative positions. Either within the company or externally.
Nevertheless, some employees and unions were up in arms. They alleged that the layoffs were unjust and unwarranted. It has negative consequences for safety and service quality.
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Union Pacific Corp. is a publicly traded railroad holding company. It was established in Utah in 1969 and is now based in Omaha, Nebraska. It serves as the parent company of the Union Pacific Railroad. It is registered in Delaware. Union Pacific Corporation, along with its competitor BNSF, holds a near-duopoly in freight railroad transportation west of the Mississippi River. Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF.
Union Pacific was headquartered in New York City after its re-founding in 1969. However, it shifted its corporate headquarters to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, during the mid-1980s. Later, the headquarters was relocated to Dallas, Texas. Then, it ultimately returned to Omaha, where it joined the UPRR headquarters.
In 2021, the ongoing legal dispute postponed the plans to lay off workers at UPRR.
The railroad had originally intended to lay off nearly 60 jobs by June 14, 2020. But the legal battle temporarily stopped their intentions.
The issue revolves around a 1954 contract involving the railroad, the city, and the county. This contract has already been taken to the Supreme Court twice.
While awaiting a ruling from an appellate court, Presley expressed concerns. He said, “This time, luck might not be on their side.”
Harris Lohmeyer, a retired Union Pacific employee from Palestine, said. This situation is like “David versus Goliath”. He said, “We’ve already won the last battle. Now considering to win this big battle.”
A judge made a ruling preventing Union Pacific from implementing any job cuts until after a court hearing was scheduled for July 8, 2021. During this hearing, the judge addressed concerns raised by the city and county. They argued that the railroad has been non-compliant with a 1955 judgment since December 2020. They claimed that Union Pacific failed to provide monthly employment and payroll reports to the city of Palestine.
UPRR Layoffs 2020
UPRR confirmed employee layoffs in 2020. However, UPRR did not reveal the exact number or locations that were affected at that time.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Pacific announced layoffs as UPRR had to reduce its mechanical department workforce. The pandemic led to a decrease in train operations, resulting in fewer trains running.
Union Pacific spokesperson Raquel Espinoza explained. “The company had to reduce its workforce in the mechanical department. Because they were operating fewer locomotives and railcars.”
However, the exact numbers of impacted employees were not revealed by Espinoza, even though a local railroad worker informed News 2 that 21 carmen were laid off initially.
In short, these job cuts were part of their broader effort. The round of layoffs impacted many employees, including management and unionized employees across Union Pacific’s extensive 23-state network.
The company acknowledged the difficulty of these decisions. However, it focused on its commitment to delivering safe, efficient, and reliable service for customers while maintaining competitiveness.
All the data was submitted to the Surface Transportation Board. It indicated that Union Pacific had around 32,820 employees in mid-July 2020. It means around a 2.2% increment had been seen from June but a significant 18.9% decrease compared to July 2019.
UPRR Layoffs 2018
Union Pacific announced in 2018 that it would lay off around 475 employees. In the layoff round, it eliminated 200 contracted positions by the end of that year. They indicated that this was the first of several workforce reduction initiatives that would continue into 2020.
The company did not reveal how many of these job cuts would occur in Omaha, as they would be spread across the entire system. Union Pacific confirmed that these decisions were difficult as they impacted employees and their families. The goal was to support the company by reducing its general and administrative support structure by approximately 30% by 2020. Besides, it implemented efficiencies in other areas of the railroad.
Organizational changes included
- Consolidating operations from three regions to two
- Eliminating five service units
- Transferring customer service responsibilities from Marketing and Sales to Operations.
The company had made executive management changes in August 2020. It unveiled a re-focused strategy for 2020 called “Unified Plan 2020.” It aimed at enhancing safety, service, and financial performance to meet customer expectations.
UPRR Layoffs 2017
In 2017, Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) announced significant job cuts. They laid off about 750 employees by mid-September in 2017. This layoff round was a part of their ongoing efforts to reduce costs. In that round, around 500 management positions and 250 railroad jobs were laid off.
These layoffs comprise about 8 percent of their management workforce. It primarily impacted employees based in Omaha, Nebraska, where the company is headquartered. Other locations within their network were also affected.
CEO Lance Fritz said, “The company had been using natural attrition and technology. So that it can lower general and administrative costs for some time. However, attrition alone was not sufficient to meet their cost reduction goals.”
These layoffs came shortly after Union Pacific announced its intention to cut costs. It was estimated to be between in range of $350 million to $400 million in 2017.
The decision to reduce staff was driven by Union Pacific’s challenges in the past few years. In contrast, they saw an increase in coal shipments in 2017. They previously faced significant declines due to power utilities shifting to cheaper natural gas. It left the negative impact of a strong U.S. dollar on coal exports.
Reasons Behind These Layoffs
Several factors have contributed to these layoffs. Let’s put light on these reasons:
Adoption of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR):
UPRR has adopted PSR. PSR is a model that optimizes operations by running fewer, longer trains on set schedules. This reduces the need for locomotives, railcars, and crew members.
The decline in Rail Volumes
The COVID-19 pandemic led to decreased demand for rail transport. UPRR has experienced reduced requests for coal, industrial goods, and intermodal shipments. Besides, trade disputes and shifting consumer preferences also declined Rail volumes.
Safeguard funds and activist investors have urged UPRR to enhance financial performance and shareholder returns. Some investors have criticized the company for lagging behind competitors.
What Sets UPRR Apart From Its Competitors?
Key Highlights of UPRR that sets it apart from its competitors:
- UPRR is one of the largest railroad companies in the country.
- Union Pacific is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
- It operates the longest track of over 32,000 miles.
- UPRR employs more than 40,000 employees.
- Union Pacific is well known for its reliable and highly efficient freight transportation services.
- The company operates various railcars and locomotives
- The company is committed to safe and secure services.
- It impacted the U.S. economy significantly.
- Union Pacific has a rich cultural heritage.
- It is involved in community outreach programs.
- Union Pacific actively invests in infrastructure improvements.
- UPRR strongly focuses on technological and innovative advancements.
- The company has an extensive intermodal transportation network.
- Besides, UPRR has a dedicated workforce committed to excellence.
In short, Union Pacific is set apart for its extensive network. Besides, it is committed to safety, sustainability, and technological innovations. Not only this, but UPRR also offers exceptional customer service.
How Long Will Layoffs Last In 2023?
The period of layoffs was anticipated to come to a close in the second half of 2023. According to KarmaV’s founder, this transition is linked to rapid digitalization. It is expected to increase demand, particularly in the BFSI sector. BFSI refers to Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance.
Impact of 5G and Infrastructure Developments
The deployment of 5G technology is set to expedite smart city initiatives as it brings about significant transformations across various sectors. These sectors encompass manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and retail. The advent of 5G is poised to pave the way for advancements in connectivity and efficiency.
Growing Demand in Tech Fields
The homegrown startup ecosystem and research and development hubs are poised to rise. This growth will lead to an increased demand for tech professionals specializing in areas such as edge computing, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).
UPRR’s layoffs result from its response to challenges and shifts in the rail industry. Since 2017, the company has furloughed or let go of numerous employees. It cited reasons like decreased rail traffic, operational efficiency improvements, and investor pressure.
These layoffs have had profound effects on workers, their families, and local communities. In comparison, UPRR insists that these measures are essential for its long-term success. The UPRR layoffs impacted various stakeholders and raised concerns about the future of the railroad and its workforce.