ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Norfolk Southern has laid off 95 employees at the Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona.
The layoffs were confirmed to WTAJ by Steve McKnight, President and CEO of the Altoona Blair County Development Corporation (ABCD).
According to Dan Dorsch, President and local Chairman of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, of the 95 lay offs, 26 of them were electricians.
The ABCD gave us the following statement:
This downsizing impacts these families hard, especially this time of year. As with the previous layoffs at NS, ABCD’s priority is to work with our Workforce Rapid Response team, Blair County Career Link and elected officials to ensure the job placement and retraining resources are directed their way.
This has been one in a series of downsizing decisions recently made by corporate leaders outside of our community. The rail industry especially is going through major changes in order to compete globally. Fortunately, our economy does not rely on just one industry.
We have greatly diversified over the years. We are growing in many of our homegrown businesses and start-ups. So, while changes in some industry sectors are tough to proactively address, they do not define who we are or what our future opportunities are.
Future employment requires different skills, space needs, community resources and assets. We must continue to work to ensure more businesses start up and grow here locally.
This year ABCD has served more than 100 small business start-ups in the last year. They provide better connections and ongoing communication with decision makers. These changes will create a much different and stronger Blair County in the coming years.ABCD Statement on Norfolk Southern Layoffs
Norfolk Southern also sent us a statement.
Today, Norfolk Southern’s Mechanical Department announced furloughs for 95 employees at its Juniata Locomotive Shop. These furloughs are part of the railroad’s organizational realignment announced earlier this year.
Consistent with our strategic plan and current business levels, our ability to streamline operations and use fewer locomotives has required the difficult but necessary decision to reduce our locomotive mechanical forces due to the decreased demand for locomotive maintenance and repair. Norfolk Southern will continue to evaluate staffing needs as our business evolves.
Furloughed employees may have the opportunity to apply for positions, as available, elsewhere on the NS system.
Norfolk Southern is proud of its long history of providing good jobs, with competitive wages and benefits, to our workforce in Pennsylvania and across our system. In today’s rapidly changing environment, Norfolk Southern continues to focus on ensuring that we have the optimal number of people and assets at every location across our system in order to operate safely and efficiently. As we execute our new strategic plan, we expect that targeted hiring and furloughing will remain components of our operating model.Norfolk Southern Media Relations
Rep. John Joyce also offered the following statement:
It is disappointing that Norfolk Southern has chosen to reduce the size of its workforce at the Juniata Locomotive Shop. These hardworking Americans are valuable members of our community. As a skilled workforce, they are an immense asset to the industries that invest in our region, and I am committed to helping those affected by today’s news to find new opportunities here in our community.
Norfolk Southern also laid off 100 employees at the beginning of September, and 50 employees back in May.
This is a developing story. Stick with WTAJ for updates.