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Shapiro & Appleton

Railroads Seeking Younger Generation of Workers

Posted on Jul 03, 2007
With an extreme shortage in employees, from many older employees retiring, and going out on occupational disability, railroads are turning to a younger crowd. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) estimates that in the next five years 80,000 new rail technicians will be needed. Union Pacific is recruiting everyone from high school graduates to engineers and those with military backgrounds. Most workers average an income of about $67,000 a year plus benefits. The reason for this sudden need for railway workers came about in 2001 when employment laws changed. The law allowed workers having 30 years or more of experience to retire at the age of 60 (U.S Railroad Retirement Board). The demand for railroad workers has increased from numerous factors besides retirement. The Virginian Pilot noted: “These include the growth in container shipping; limits on how many hours long-haul truckers could drive; soaring gas prices; the Wyoming coal boom; and the demand for Midwestern corn for ethanol development.” The railways are spending 9.4 billion to increase rail capacity according to The Association of American Railroads (AAR). This is because railroads are hauling freight more than ever. 5.8 million Carloads were hauled in the first few months of 2007 which leaves an ever increasing need for workers right now. However, much experience will be lost from the workers who are retiring. The new workers replacing them will not have as much experience and will therefore be more prone to personal injuries. We routinely represent rail workers hurt on the job in FELA cases. Our law firm finds that younger workers may be less aware of their FELA rights to make claims for injuries against their railroad company employers. The newer rail worker, whether conductor, engineer, track man, or car man, is more likely to have a catastrophic loss like brain injury, broken bones, loss of limb, or even death, often because of insufficient training.
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