UPDATE: Norfolk Southern furloughs 58 employees in Chattanooga Mechanical Dept.
UPDATE: Nearly five dozen employees arrived to work at Norfolk Southern in Chattanooga Tuesday only to learn they were being furloughed.
This isn't the first time it's happened this year either.
Several people reached out to Channel 3 via e-mail. They didn't feel comfortable sharing their experiences on camera but several talked about moving their families to the area for the job only to be laid off a few months later.
Others talked about waiting for months to go back to work, only to be told to turn in their equipment.
More than 91,000 people worked in the freight rail industry last year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The number of those jobs is expected to decrease by 2% over the next decade.
Zach Strickland is the Director of Freight Market and Intelligence at FreightWaves in Chattanooga. He's seen the market fluctuate a lot over the last 16 years.
"We've had a recession, we've had flat times, we've had incredible growth and expansion as well," he said.
The first have of 2018 came with a lot of expansion, Strickland said, but then things changed.
"All this expansion kind of died. Trade war concerns and things like that really inhibited the growth because there was so much uncertainty. This year that continued into 2019 and became very apparent," he added.
Norfolk Southern, one of the largest railroad companies in the United States, confirmed Tuesday 58 employees were being furloughed from the Chattanooga Mechanical Department.
The company said through a statement the furloughs were part of an organizational realignment announced earlier this year and due to the decreased demand for locomotive maintenance and repair.
"Your biggest shippers in the country they use trains just as much as they use trucks and a lot of times they don't want to necessarily take the freight off the truck and put it on the rail because there's a lot of extra steps," Strickland said.
Strickland said the rail and road freight industries go hand in hand and he's seen a decline in road freight too.
He believes the industries aren't in the clear just yet, but he's hopeful consumers and the economy will help stabilize the market in the future.
"There are some signs that this could bleed into 2020 and have a pretty rough impact on particularly the transportation market," he said.
Norfolk Southern said the people who were furloughed Tuesday do have the opportunity to apply for other positions in the NS system.
You can read their full statement below:
"Today, Norfolk Southern's Mechanical Department announced furloughs for 58 employees in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 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 Tennessee 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."
ORIGINAL STORY: Norfolk Southern's Mechanical Department announced furloughs Tuesday, laying off 59 workers in Chattanooga.
The rail line explained that the furloughs were part of the railroad's 'organizational realignment' announced earlier this year.
The furloughs are part of the company's efforts 'to streamline operations and use fewer locomotives' and 'has required the
difficult but necessary decision to reduce our locomotive mechanical forces due to the decreased demand for locomotive maintenance and repair.'
Furloughed employees may have the opportunity to apply for positions, as available, elsewhere on the NS system, according to the company's media relations.