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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2006

Railroad tries to lure auto workers in Midwest

BY MARY-BETH McLAUGHLIN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Seeking to hire 5,000 to 6,000 workers a year for the next decade, Union Pacific Corp. is aggressively trying to recruit Ohio and Michigan auto workers who may soon be without jobs.

The Omaha parent of Union Pacific Railroad, which has 33,000 miles of rail, 8,000 locomotives, and 107,000 freight cars, is getting the word out that workers with manufacturing experience might want to consider relocating for jobs as locomotive engineers, conductors, diesel mechanics, railroad track crew members, or the operations management training program.

The call stems from expected retirements: 40 percent of its 50,000 employees leaving in the next few years.

The company operates in 23 states west of the Mississippi River, necessitating that workers move from the Midwest, said James Barnes, director of media operations for Union Pacific.

Mike Veh, of Lucas County Workforce Development at The Source, said such jobs may appeal to some, but he is not sure how many displaced autoworkers will want to move that far.

But, he added, "For the right person, it's probably a great opportunity, because the railroads pay very well and the have great retirement benefits."

Still, he said, he'd prefer the job openings be local.

Many Union Pacific positions are union and pay would depend on experience, but most workers probably would start at about $40,000 a year and could make as much as $75,000. That's about the pay range for most hourly auto workers at Big Three factories.

The company is particularly interested in auto workers because they have been trained to exercise safe work habits, are used to working around equipment, and they're accustomed to shift work.

He said there are differences between auto plants and rail yards. "A lot of our jobs involve manufacturing outdoors but when people are considering what opportunities may be available to them, we'd like them to consider a job with the railroad."

People who are interested can log on to www.up.com and click on the words Power Your Career - Join Our Team.

Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at

mmclaughlin@theblade.com

or 419-724-6199.



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