Union Pacific wants a court to invalidate an 1872 pact requiring it to keep a certain number of jobs in an East Texas town indefinitely.

The agreement with the town of Palestine, which has been amended several times over the decades, is a vestige of railroad history that was made by one of the railroads Union Pacific bought years ago. The lawsuit challenging the agreement was filed Wednesday in Texas.

The railroad argues that the local agreement is invalid because railroads are regulated by the federal government, and this deal requiring jobs be maintained in Palestine improperly limits its options.

City Manager Leslie Cloer says she hasn’t seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it directly, but she hopes Union Pacific will maintain its operations in Palestine.

“We would love to keep them here,” Cloer said.

The agreement between the city and Union Pacific requires the Omaha-based railroad to keep 0.52% of its total jobs in Palestine, Cloer said.

Union Pacific operates roughly 32,000 miles of track in 23 western states. In recent years, the railroad has been working to streamline its operations and improve efficiency. Union Pacific had an average of 36,659 employees as of its last earnings report, which is 13% lower than it had a year earlier.

Railroad spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza said the agreement is limiting Union Pacific’s flexibility with its freight car repair shop in Palestine.

“Union Pacific is improving operations to meet customer needs. The agreement keeps us from implementing modern railroad practices in Palestine, Texas,” Espinoza said.

Get the latest development, jobs and retail news, delivered straight to your inbox every day.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.