NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — The Union Pacific Railroad carried out additional job reductions at North Platte’s Bailey Yard on Wednesday, the latest in a series of furloughs and job eliminations under U.P.’s systemwide Unified Plan 2020.
Railroad officials informed the North Platte Area Chamber and Development Corp. of the latest job cuts, chamber President and CEO Gary Person told The Telegraph.
“We were officially notified by Union Pacific’s regional community relations personnel early (Wednesday) morning that this was occurring,” he said. “But they would not talk specific numbers.”
Based on previous Bailey Yard employment estimates given to the chamber, he said, U.P. has cut about 200 net jobs at the world’s largest rail classification yard over the last three years.
That would include at least three previous rounds of Bailey Yard job cuts since New Year’s Day. Local railroad union leaders previously pegged total job losses at 118 from January and February furloughs and job eliminations. Additional cuts were made in April.
U.P. officials pegged Bailey’s employment at 2,048 in a meeting with community leaders last month, Person said. Based on the chamber’s newest information, he said, the latest cuts should leave the yard with around 2,000 employees.
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“The railroad is going to do what the railroad feels it needs to do. That’s just the way it is,” Person said. “We have to put our efforts (as a community) into greater diversification in our employee base.
“And we’re working on it. There are some encouraging developments in the works.”
U.P. spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza confirmed Wednesday that more jobs have been cut in North Platte and in the South Morrill yard, where the railroad closed one of its two mechanical shops in October.
In March, Union Pacific notified its locomotive employees that positions would be eliminated, she said in an email.
Espinoza declined to specify the newest or cumulative total of job cuts at Bailey Yard, but again attributed the reductions to “a reduced locomotive fleet and fewer rail cars on our network” under Unified Plan 2020.
Union Pacific has stored more than 1,000 locomotives and trimmed thousands of rail cars from its inventory since announcing its new “Precision Scheduled Railroading” operations philosophy last September. It envisioned eliminating nearly 500 jobs across the U.P. system.
The railroad in April reported record first-quarter net income of $1.4 billion and a 1 percentage point improvement over the past year in U.P.’s “operating ratio” — the percentage of income it spends on operating expenses — over the first quarter of 2018.
U.P. officials informed Morrill village leaders Monday that 30 workers would be furloughed at the remaining South Morrill mechanical shop, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported.
Sixty-eight South Morrill workers likewise were furloughed when the railroad closed the larger mechanical shop there. Union Pacific established the yard in the 1980s when it completed its branch line from there to the coal fields in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
Tony Schuler, chairman of the Morrill Village Board, said it appeared newly furloughed South Morrill workers would have the same chance as their predecessors to transfer to Bailey Yard or another U.P. shop.
If they’re still officially on the railroad’s employment books, workers who transfer could “bump” other members of their craft’s local union if they have more seniority, North Platte union leaders have said.
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The car rental business
Appropriately located in a former horse stable, the Ford Livery Company at 1314 Howard Street was America's first car rental company, dreamed up in 1916 by Joe Saunders. He and his brothers expanded their company, later renamed Saunders Drive It Yourself System, to 56 cities by 1926. They sold to Avis in 1955. Read more
These chocolates, a Nebraska staple, are sold throughout the world. They’ve been produced in Greenwood for three generations.
In St. Paul, Nebraska, during the late 1940s, a woman named Dorothy Lynch developed a sweet and tangy dressing. Community members loved it so much that they brought their own bottles and jugs to have them filled with the popular concoction. In 1964, Lynch sold the recipe to Tasty-Toppings so it could be widely manufactured. Every bottle of Dorothy Lynch now comes from a production facility in Duncan.
Vise-Grip locking pliers
These days, the pliers are made in China, but the handy tool was made at a plant in Dewitt, Nebraska, until 2008. William Petersen, a blacksmith in DeWitt, came up with the idea for locking pliers in the early 1920s. He patented his first wrench in 1921, but the first Vise-Grip wrench with a locking handle was not patented until 1924. Petersen originally sold the pliers from the trunk of his car, but later formed a company and began manufacturing Vise-Grips in DeWitt in 1938. The company was acquired by Irwin Tools in 1993.
The chair lift
Union Pacific engineer (not the train kind) James Curran came up with the design for the ski chairlift in 1936. He was inspired by hook-equipped banana conveyor systems that loaded cargo ships in the tropics. The first chairlifts were installed at a ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1936 and 1937.
In 1958, Cliff Hillegass was working at Nebraska Book Co. when he met a Canadian man who published study guides. Hillegass acquired the American rights to the product and produced them under the name CliffsNotes. He continued to develop more, working from Lincoln. The company would go on to produce reference guides for subjects other than literature, saving the academic lives of millions of students time and again.
Daytona 500 trophy
The road to a Daytona 500 trophy literally goes through Omaha. The coveted winner’s award is sculpted by hand in the Cornhusker State by John Lajba, who crafts a replica of the Harley J. Earl trophy each year to be given to the winner of the “Great American Race.” The original trophy, named for automobile designer and second NASCAR commissioner Harley Earl, is kept on display at the Daytona International Speedway.
When blacksmith-turned-knifemaker Frank J. Richtig made a name for himself among knife enthusiasts by dramatically demonstrating his knives. Using a hammer, he would pound the blade completely through a ¾-inch-thick steel strap. Then he would slice a piece of paper with the knife that had cut through steel. Richtig’s feat was possible because the steel had been hardened through a process he both discovered and took to his grave in 1977. Richtig’s knives — many of which are in private collections — have been valued at more than $4,000 each.
Inspiration for the chocolate-coated ice cream bar came from a candy store in Onawa, Iowa, in 1920. But it wasn’t until owner and creator Christian Kent Nelson took his invention to a Nebraska chocolatier named Russell Stover that the Eskimo Pie went into mass production. Many variations of the delicious treat are available in grocery and convenience stores worldwide.
Collapsible voting booths
Nebraska native Elizabeth Robb Douglas came up with the idea for a collapsible voting booth. The idea for a collapsible voting booth came to her in a dream in 1905. That dream launched the Douglas Manufacturing Company, which sold collapsible booths nationwide until it closed in 2016.
The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier was developed at the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln between 1998 and 2002. Dean Sicking led a team of engineers to create the special safety wall for racetracks, which reduces the danger to drivers in a crash. The system was installed on many IndyCar and NASCAR circuit tracks.
Frozen TV dinners
In the 1950s, Swanson met the needs of busy American families with the creation of a meal that was easy and fast to prepare in single portions. Several other frozen dinners had been developed by other companies, but Omaha-based Swanson developed the idea on a nationwide scale. Though it’s widely assumed that the term “TV dinner” came from families eating the frozen meals in front of the television at dinner time, food historians say the name came from the tray’s original shape, which resembled a 1950s TV.