KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four months after at least 200 railroad employees were laid off at Kansas City’s Neff Yard, some of them are still struggling to get their unemployment checks.
The Union Pacific railroad workers lost their jobs effective immediately in October. It was part of what the company called its Unified Plan 2020 to streamline operations.
Since workers weren’t given federally required 60-day warning, they received WARN pay for 60 days.
Unlike most workers in Kansas and Missouri, they aren’t eligible for state unemployment but are covered by the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.
Workers thought that meant 130 days of unemployment from the Railroad Retirement Board.
Now some workers have received letters saying they’d have to wait because that federally required WARN pay was being treated as severance.
“It affects everyone. People have mortgages, rent, bills to pay,” said Aaron Kincheloe, a 11-year veteran machinist at Union Pacific.
Others said they’ve been told by the federal agency cutting the checks that Union Pacific didn’t file the proper paper work.
“I never would have expected to get laid off and to have the trouble I’ve had to get my railroad unemployment,” said Corey Pryor, a 11-year veteran machinist at Union Pacific.
After FOX4 called Union Pacific and connected Pryor with executives, he said he was told his check would be in the mail.
“If it was a clerical error for him, I suspect they are going to have a lot of clerical errors they are going to have to correct for everyone else because we are all in the same boat,” Kincheloe said.
Union Pacific advised other affected employees still waiting on their unemployment to check with the Railroad Retirement Board and resend their paperwork to the company if necessary.
The workers summed up the situation as “a mess.”
“You go from working 40 hours a week to not having a job, not knowing where your next paycheck is come coming from, how to put food on the table or pay the bills. You are like what do I do now?” Pryor said.