Union Pacific lays off 30 people

A Union Pacific train makes its way past Scotts Bluff National Monument.

MORRILL — Union Pacific Railroad has announced its plans to furlough 30 workers at its mechanical shop at the South Morrill yard.

Morrill Village Board Chairman Tony Schuler said a representative from Union Pacific called the village office Monday to give them a heads-up about the layoffs.

Schuler has continued to reach out to the railroad for more details, but has yet to hear back from them.

This is the second round of layoffs at the South Morrill yard. The UP’s larger mechanical shop, where major repairs were done, was closed last October and its equipment sold.

About 68 workers from that shop were transferred to shops in either North Platte or North Little Rock, Arkansas.

This week’s layoffs affect the smaller mechanical shop at the Morrill yard, where minor locomotive repairs and maintenance is done. Major repairs are now being sent to the shop at the Bailey yard in North Platte.

Schuler said his understanding is that the furloughed employees will be given the same option as from last October’s closing where employees could transfer to North Platte or another Union Pacific shop.

“We were told Monday morning that UP would furlough 30 people from its maintenance shop and there could be more,” Schuler said. “I don’t think reports of them closing the yard are factual. There will always be train traffic through Morrill, but we don’t know how those trains will run or whether they’ll stop here for service.”

Schuler said the crews on train traffic through the area will continue to come through Morrill, so the local hotel and diner will continue to stay busy.

As the nation’s economy continues to improve, there’s been an uptick in train traffic through the area for hauling coal from Wyoming. It’s just a matter of the local jobs that are impacting the area.

Schuler said the loss of 30 jobs will have a big economic impact on not only Morrill, but also surrounding Lyman, Henry, Torrington and even Scottsbluff.

“The railroad offers a very good salary and great benefits and those are hard to match by local businesses,” he said. “As of now, we don’t know what the railroad’s plan is, but it’s unfortunate that people have to go through this.”

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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