The face and future of the BNSF Railway yard in Guernsey may be changing in the next few months.
According to Maia LaSalle, Director of Public Affairs at BNSF in a release that she provided for the Guernsey Gazette, she said, “BNSF Railway has made the decision to close maintenance facilities in Donkey Creek and Guernsey, Wyoming in response to our customers’ changing business conditions and projected lower demand for rail cars to ship commodities.”
Although the company has not specified whether other layoffs are coming, speculation is that the coronavirus has had an impact on the current announcement. Due to collective bargaining, the railway has 60 days to try to come up with perhaps a solution to alleviate the closures, but as of now, the shutdowns are on the table.
History shows that this has happened before in the BNSF organization and in the collective bargaining period, the company has not gone ahead with plans to eliminate jobs. Chad Hansen, Terminal Manager at Guernsey is hopeful that this will be the case.
Although Hansen has not been able to make an official statement as per company officials, he mentioned that he was “disappointed” as to the development.
“This announcement is specific to our mechanical forces and impacts 92 jobs at Guernsey and 38 jobs at Donkey Creek,” LaSalle said. “The Guernsey terminal will remain operational.”
Although LaSalle has stated that the terminal in Guernsey will remain operational, she gave no insight as to whether operations would undergo a change or even whether the terminal would be eliminated. Hansen mentioned that the track was not going to be done away with.
“We understand the significant impact this has on our employees and the communities in which they live,” LaSalle said. “We are working diligently to connect them with available resources, while also offering the option to potentially transfer to a number of open positions at other locations in our network.”
BNSF is the largest railway service in the United States with more than 40,000 employees and has felt the crunch with the coronavirus. Guernsey has experienced a bit of a setback as Hansen said that they have had to furlough a few employees.
“Employees accepting a job in other locations will receive a relocation package to assist with the move,” LaSalle said. “Some impacted employees can exercise their seniority for these jobs as part of their collective bargaining agreements.”
The Donkey Creek shop will close on June 5, 2020. The shop at Guernsey will close on July 7, 2020.