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  • OTVI.USA
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    -70.470
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  • TLT.USA
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  • WAIT.USA
    158.000
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  • DATVF.VSU
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  • DATVF.PHLCHI
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  • DATVF.VEU
    1.652
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  • DATVF.LAXSEA
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  • DATVF.CHIATL
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  • DATVF.VWU
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  • DATVF.SEALAX
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  • DATVF.VNU
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  • DATVF.DALLAX
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  • DATVF.ATLPHL
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  • DATVF.LAXDAL
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  • ITVI.USA
    10,250.710
    -46.410
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  • OTRI.USA
    7.920
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  • OTVI.USA
    10,244.810
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  • TLT.USA
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  • WAIT.USA
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NewsTrucking

Union Pacific sues Texas town over 1870s-era jobs promise

Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) is suing the city of Palestine, Texas, to nullify a 150-year-old contract to keep a certain number of jobs in the town indefinitely.

The agreement between Union Pacific and Palestine — which was signed in 1872 — dates back to the days when the city was at the crossroads of several railroad companies that promised to keep jobs there indefinitely, according to the Palestine Herald-Press.

Union Pacific’s lawsuit, filed Nov. 27 with the U.S. District Courts in the Eastern District of Texas, alleges the railroad’s contract with Palestine should have been invalidated when the federal Surface Transportation Board became the nation’s regulating authority for freight rail in 1996; and again in 1997, when Union Pacific merged with the Missouri-Pacific Railroad.

The agreement requires the Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad to keep 0.52% of its total jobs in Palestine, local officials said.

Union Pacific operates around 32,000 miles of track in 23 Western states. The company had around 37,000 employees as of its last earnings report.

If the courts rule in Union Pacific’s favor, it could threaten more than 60 jobs in Palestine that pay an average of $65,000 a year, local officials said.

Palestine Mayor Steve Presley told the Herald-Press the city would fight the lawsuit.

“The city council will decide on the best course of action, once we have a chance to discuss the lawsuit,” Presley said. “Personally, I will do everything within my power to keep all jobs possible here in Palestine.”

Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said the 150-year-old agreement is limiting the company’s flexibility with its freight car repair shop in Palestine.

“The agreement keeps us from implementing modern railroad practices in Palestine,” Espinoza said in a statement.

Palestine, in East Texas, has a population of 18,136. It is located around 125 miles equidistant between Dallas and Houston, as well as Shreveport, Louisiana.

In 2014, Union Pacific employed as many as 150 people in Palestine, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph. They worked in “the car shop and the transportation, signal, track and freight claims departments.”

In April, Union Pacific laid off 30 employees from its car shop in Palestine.

“These steps are part of Unified Plan 2020, which streamlines operations as we ensure Union Pacific remains a strong, competitive company that provides safe, efficient and reliable service,” said Union Pacific spokeswoman Kristen South.


Unified Plan 2020 is Union Pacific’s version of precision scheduled railroading, according to a FreightWaves article Oct. 17.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is the Cross-Border Freight Market Reporter for FreightWaves.com. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1999. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a reporter and editor. He has worked for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas.

21 Comments

  1. I hope the court sides with the town. UP is only wanting to layoff more people and claiming they can’t modernize their facility there because of this agreement, but last I knew you can modernize facility and you dont need to get rid of people to do it.

  2. You need to understand the language IF perpetual was the word or one of it’s synonyms, then FOREVER is the time meant by the agreement!

  3. There just more jackass’s screwing people over just so they can keep there big oh so precious money through there pockets. All they care about is money . they need to kick him out and get someone who actually know railroading and cares about railroading rather than just money flowing in and straight out of there pockets

  4. They care more for the hedge funds and excessive profits than their employees or the community they effect.

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