‘It’s unethical’: 200 Union Pacific workers given 2 days notice before KC’s Neff Yard closed

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KANSA CITY, Mo -- Two hundred people who worked at Union Pacific's Neff Yard are out of a job. They were given just two days notice that they're no longer employed.

"There is a reason they call it getting railroaded. Right now the railroads are railroading the communities," said Ty Dragoo, the Kansas Legislative Director for transportation union SMART.

Dragoo said this closure is all part of Precision Scheduled Railroading, or PSR, a term coined by Wall Street that really means doing more with less to increase profits for shareholders.

"Railroads are historically making more money than they have at any point in time. This just boils down to insatiable corporate greed," Dragoo said.

Part of the reason railroads, including Union Pacific, are making so much money is because of tax breaks and subsidies partially funded by the citizens of Kansas City.

In exchange for that support, the railroads have provided jobs to the community dating back to the 1800's.

"We want people in our community to have these jobs. The railroads will still receive the incentive benefits like the tax cuts, those tax subsidies, but now they get to take the money and cut and run," Dragoo said. "It's not fair. It's not right. It's unethical, and we need to start asking these hard questions."

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A statement sent by a Union Pacific spokesperson reads:

"Union Pacific continues streamlining operations as part of our Unified Plan 2020 operating plan. Switching operations at Neff Yard in Kansas City, Missouri, are being transferred to our 18th Street and Armourdale yards in Kansas City, Kansas.

"Union Pacific will continue delivering rail cars to customers near Neff Yard. While we will reduce our workforce in this area, certain employees will have an opportunity to work at the new yards, or potentially transfer to different areas.

"These changes will improve operating efficiencies, helping us provide customers with safe and reliable rail service."

Neff Yard processes 1,500 to 1,800 rail cars a day. Dragoo estimates that, combined, 18th Street and Armourdale yards can only handle about 600 to 800.

"That spirals down the line. You will start to see backlogs all across the country," Dragoo said. "We think there are going to be a lot of businesses that will say, 'We are going to ship our products to trucks.' You will see increased truck traffic on the roads. We are going to see some industries say, 'We can't move our products to market so are we going to stay in business.'"

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