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Legal limbo delays Union Pacific’s layoff plans at Palestine railcar shop

Railroad plans to eliminate almost 60 jobs
Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:02 PM CDT
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PALESTINE, Texas (KLTV) - An ongoing legal battle has delayed plans to lay off workers at Union Pacific’s Palestine railcar shop.

The railroad intended to cut almost 60 jobs by Monday, June 14, but the game of legal limbo temporarily stopped their plans.

At issue is a 1954 contract between the railroad, city and county. The contract issue has already been to the Supreme Court twice, with the community winning each time, according to Mayor Steve Presley.

As they wait on a ruling from an appellate court, Presley fears they may not be as lucky this time.

“When an operating, profitable business can get out of a contract just because they want to, something is wrong with this country,” Presley said.

A Union Pacific employee can be seen wearing a Palestine Car Shop cap.
A Union Pacific employee can be seen wearing a Palestine Car Shop cap.(Blake Holland/KLTV)

“This is a David versus Goliath type of situation,” said Harris Lohmeyer, a retired Union Pacific Palestine employee. “We’ve won the last two battles, but hopefully we’ll win the big battle.”

A judge ruled Union Pacific cannot cut any jobs until after a court hearing set for July 8. On that date, the judge is set to take up an issue brought forth by the city and county who say the railroad has been out of compliance with their 1955 judgement since December 2020. They claim the railroad has failed to provide employment and payroll reports on a monthly basis to the city of Palestine.

“Unless we get some national help on this, we’re fighting a battle that will be a miracle if we win,” Presley said. “All of a sudden we’re going to see all of these big ultra-rich companies able to just pick and choose deals they want to keep and what deals they don’t want to keep. That’s absolutely, totally wrong.”

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