'It’s infuriating... just corporate greed’: Why Norfolk Southern is downsizing in Roanoke

The company announced Tuesday it was cutting another 104 jobs in the Star City

ROANOKE, Va. – An announcement Tuesday signaled a major loss for Roanoke and caused dozens of local families to rethink their future in the Star City.

Norfolk Southern said it will eliminate about 104 workers from its Roanoke operations when it closes down its locomotive shop and transfers work at its distribution center.

The railroad has been in Roanoke since the 1880s. Amid its rich history; however, there have been downturns, including last year when Norfolk Southern furloughed 170 workers.

This summer, many buildings along Campbell Avenue which have long housed operations will be empty, union leaders said, and, according to the company, 650 employees will remain.

Norfolk Southern is again citing a drop in business, which it expects will continue, as the reason for its most recent decisions. A spokesperson says it’s now shipping half the amount of coal it was 12 years ago.

But union leaders tell 10 News there’s more to the story. They say Norfolk Southern created the downturn itself by focusing only on big business, with large hauls, and ditching smaller customers.

“It’s infuriating. It’s self-inflicted business loss. Their claim that car loadings are down is part of their business plan,” local union leader Shannon Spotswood said. “It’s at the expense of the worker. It is greed. It’s nothing more or less than just corporate greed.”

A company spokesperson said it’s a “difficult but necessary decision,” and the company “will remain engaged in the community.”

The workers whose positions are being eliminated or transferred will work until mid-April to mid-May, the company says. Union leaders say workers who will be leaving the company have a chance to get a small cash severance package.

85 mechanical workers will be able to transfer to Altoona, Pennsylvania, if they’d like to.

Union leaders and workers told 10 News that the future looks bleak. They believe Norfolk Southern will continue to downsize its Roanoke operations.

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