ERWIN, TN (WJHL) – CSX announced Thursday morning it plans to reduce train operations at it Erwin, TN yard. Around 300 contract and management employee will be impacted.
The decision, according to a press release, was due to “significantly reduced coal traffic through the region.”
CSX plans to close a locomotive service center, a project and car shop and eliminating switching operations at the Northeast Tennessee yard.
Congressman Phil Roe said he was sad to hear the CSX announcement and put the blame on the commander in chief:
“I was saddened to hear that CSX would be closing their terminal in Erwin. My thoughts and prayers are with the good people of Erwin, especially the 300 men and women who will lose their jobs because of this decision. This is a huge blow to Unicoi County, whose unemployment rate has been consistently higher than the national average. This is just another example of how President Obama’s War on Coal is negatively affecting our region, and East Tennesseans deserve better. My office has reached out to state and local officials to look into job training programs and other resources that might be available. In the weeks and months ahead, I’ll continue to work to identify opportunities for these workers, and I encourage those affected to contact any of my offices if I can be of assistance to them or their families.”
Meanwhile, CSX employees will meet with a SMART Union chairman to discuss the shutting down of the terminal.
Adren Crawford SMART,TN State Legislative Director told News Channel 11 Thursday afternoon:
This workforce reduction not only affects a small subset of workers – this affects all of us.These are good paying jobs that are leaving the local community. When jobs like these leave, the loss of work effects the local tax base, local businesses and eventually the resources dedicated to local schools and public services that all of us rely on in one way or another. This closing was caused by outside forces that were triggered by a reduction in coal production. We are here to represent our members and in turn the common good of the community we live in. We will pursue all avenues to ensure that this community and our members are treated fairly during this time.
Unicoi County had an unemployment rate of 7.7% in August of this year, while the state had and unemployment rate of 5.7%. The national jobless rate in August was 5.1%.
CSX released the following details in a press release Thursday morning.:
Operations in Erwin primarily served coal trains moving from the Central Appalachian coal fields, and the diminished traffic levels no longer support the activities performed there. The combination of low natural gas prices and regulatory action has significantly decreased CSX’s coal movements over the past four years, with more than $1 billion in coal revenue declines during that time.
Affected employees at Erwin will receive at least 60 days of pay and benefits. Contract employees also may have other benefits available in accordance with their labor agreements. Many furloughed employees will be eligible for jobs in higher-demand areas on CSX’s network. Affected management employees will be offered relocation opportunities as they are available, or will be eligible for severance benefits.
CSX remains committed to delivering strong service to customers in the region. Remaining coal traffic, as well as merchandise traffic including grain unit trains, will be rerouted efficiently across other parts of the CSX network.
Across Tennessee, CSX operates more than 1,500 miles of track, with facilities that include its division headquarters and a major yard in Nashville.