New round of furloughs hits Norfolk Southern employees

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Just six days into the new year and a new round of furloughs has taken place at Norfolk Southern.

WDBJ7 photo

In 2019, there were 175 total furloughs that happened in April and September.

Now approximately 67 people have been added to the list.

"We're gonna do all that we can do to help these individuals," said Mayor Sherman Lea.

In September, the city and Mayor Lea were not aware the furloughs were happening. This time, they found out Monday morning, but a plan is in the works.

"Right now I'm not at liberty to go into detail, because we're working the details out but I do want to let the families know we will be working on their behalf," said Lea.

When WDBJ7 reached out to Norfolk Southern directly, we received the following statement which reads in part,

"We don't take personnel decisions lightly, yet the reality is that as our business changes, so too do our personnel needs. Recently, this adjustment required reductions in select areas of the business, particularly in locomotive maintenance and repair."

"In other shops across their system, and other cities and states, they're forcing machinists to work overtime," said Mike Perry, president and directing general chairman for district lodge 19, which covers all railroads across the U.S.

While Perry clarified the term furlough does mean there is a chance for recall, the employees were told a recall is not likely.

That means they only have a few months to figure out what's next.

"They do get railroad unemployment which is not as much as state unemployment; they can draw that for six months from the railroad retirement board," said Perry.

The breakdown of the furloughs is as follows:

Forty-seven furloughs came at the Roanoke Locomotive Shop (East End), including 28 machinists, nine electricians, five pipe fitters, three laborers and two boilermakers.

The company further says it is hiring in different departments and locations elsewhere. Norfolk Southern employs more than 23,000 people across 22 states, with what it says are "high-paying jobs, with competitive benefits."

Norfolk Southern also added outsourcing was not a cause of the furloughs.

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