State legislators urge UP to drop suit against Palestine, Texas

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Workers repair a boxcar at a Missouri Pacific car shop in Palestine, Texas, in July 1963. The shop, operated by Union Pacific since its merger with the MoPac, is at the center of a lawsuit to end the railroad's agreement to guarantee jobs in Palestine.
Steve Patterson

PALESTINE, Texas — Two state legislators have issued a statement calling on Union Pacific to drop its effort to overturn an almost 150-year-old law guaranteeing railroad jobs in Palestine.

The railroad filed suit in late November to void the agreement dating to 1872 which requires 0.52 percent of its workforce to be based in Palestine, site of a car shop. [See “UP sues to end employment provision in Texas town,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 2, 2019.]

The statement by state Rep. Cody Harris (R-Corsicana) and state Sen. Robert Nichols (R-District 3) urges Union Pacific “to uphold the current contract and abandon its attempt to break this long-standing agreement. Breaking the agreement or convincing a court to nullify the contract would have a devastating impact on our local economy and the 60 families who’ve devoted their lives and their careers to Union Pacific.”

The Palestine Herald-Press quotes Palestine Mayor Steve Presley as saying this is not the first time the agreement has been challenged in court. “UP attempted something like this in the 1970s,” Presley told the paper. “We beat them then. Our job is to figure out a way to beat them now.”

Since that time, however, the Interstate Commerce Commission has been replaced as the rail regulating body by the Surface Transportation Board, and unnamed legal experts told the paper the city will likely lose its legal battle with the railroad.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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