LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Union Pacific Corp. is furloughing most of the staff at its facility in Little Rock that repairs the railroad’s locomotives after seeing a substantial drop in business volume because of the coronavirus pandemic, a company representative said.
Kristen South, the Nebraska-based railroad’s senior director for corporate communications and media relations, declined to specify how many people were laid off but said employees on Thursday started receiving notifications regarding the Jenks Locomotive Facility’s temporary closure. South added that the company will reevaluate fiscal conditions during the week of May 18 to determine if the facility can resume operations June 1.
“Many of our customers have reduced or halted production,” she told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via email. “While we anticipate volumes will return over time, we are taking actions to protect the company from further economic impacts of the virus.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
South noted that some managers and craft workers will remain on-site in the facility’s maintenance area to finish remaining work and prepare for when it reopens.
“This is a difficult time for our nation, Union Pacific, and for our Jenks Locomotive Facility team members and their families,” South said. “We look forward to seeing the economy recover and for Jenks Locomotive Facility to begin normal operations, as soon as possible.”
The facility makes up 227,000 square feet (21,000 square meters) of space in the complex that employs more than 1,100 people, the Union Pacific website states. It notes that the workers perform heavy maintenance on a fleet of 7,000 locomotives that pull more than 2,000 trains daily through the western two-thirds of the country.