CSX is laying off at least 180 people and closing its Corbin maintenance facility.
Rumors have abounded in recent days about possible layoffs at the facility and closing of some operations at the Corbin yard.
“They just walked in this morning and shut the doors,” said one source close to CSX.
The lost jobs represent about 50 percent of total employment at the Corbin facility.
CSX officials confirmed the layoffs and closings later Tuesday.
Though their last day was Tuesday, all of the affected employees will receive at least 60 days of pay and benefits. Union employees also may have other benefits available in accordance with their respective labor agreements.
According to information from CSX, 100 jobs, composed of train crews and yard workers, will remain in Corbin, in addition to a limited number of mechanical employees to support and manage yard traffic.
“Corbin continues to be an important part of the CSX network for the movement of automobiles, consumer products and other freight,” CSX officials stated.
In addition to the CSX employees, officials with General Electric confirmed a number of their employees who worked out of the CSX facility are also being furloughed.
“At this time, the number of GE employees directly impacted remains to be determined. We are working through the transition and identifying new opportunities across the network for these employees,” said Jessica Taylor, a spokesperson with GE Transportation.
A family member of one of the affected GE employees, who asked not to be identified, said the employees have been offered the option to transfer to facilities in Jacksonville, Fla., Santa Fe. N.M. or Nashville, Tenn.
In a letter sent to Knox County Judge Executive J.M. Hall, as required by federal law when a company employing more than 100 people closes a facility or lays off employees, CSX officials listed 225 employees subjected to the layoff, including: 67 machinists, 49, electrical workers, 31, car men, 30 utility workers, 24 sheet metal workers, 10 clerical workers and 14 managers.
Melanie Cost, a spokesperson for CSX, said the company identified the total number of active and inactive employees, including managers, which could potentially be impacted by the shop closings.
“CSX does not anticipate that all listed employees will ultimately be impacted,” Cost stated, noting a number of the management employees will be offered relocation opportunities and union employees may have seniority that gives them rights to other jobs within their labor agreements.
“Consequently, at present, CSX believes approximately 180 active employees who worked or reported at the facilities are expected to lose their jobs at Corbin.”
The layoffs and closings, which are similar to those that occurred at the CSX facility in Erwin, Tenn. earlier this month, are the result of the downturn in the coal industry.
The one difference, being the switching yard in Erwin was also eliminated.
Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, R-Ky., offered his thoughts and prayers for the families impacted by the layoffs.
“This is a truly heartbreaking loss for Corbin and the surrounding area,” Rogers, said noting he will continue to push for regulatory relief in Washington in an attempt kick start the coal industry.
Knox County Judge-Executive J.M. Hall said it is part of the painful effort the area must go through in order to shift away from an economy centered around coal production.
“The coal industry is not coming back anytime soon,” Hall said. “ Losing these jobs will be devastating to not only ours, but the surrounding counties as well. Sometimes you have to get in survival mode just to keep jobs here. Trying to hold your own is tough in today’s economy. That’s why we’ll continually strive to find jobs for our people.”