Nation & World

Want a $25,000 bonus? These railroad companies are desperate for help

Locomotives at the BNSF Railway Locomotive Maintenance Inspection Terminal in the Argentine rail yard in Kansas City, Kan.
Locomotives at the BNSF Railway Locomotive Maintenance Inspection Terminal in the Argentine rail yard in Kansas City, Kan. kmyers@kcstar.com

What would it take to get you to work on the railroad?

A little extra cash? How about a sign-on bonus of up to $25,000?

That's what two major railroad companies are offering in an effort to recruit more workers in what The Wall Street Journal called "a historically tight labor market."

The Journal said BNSF Railway, based in Fort Worth, Texas, and Union Pacific Corp. in Omaha, Nebraska, are filling jobs as the demand rises to ship more products across the western side of the country.

BNSF Railway said in a tweet that new mechanical workers at its Alliance, Nebraska, location could qualify for a $10,000 to $15,000 hiring bonus.

The BNSF website showed 85 job listings Thursday with even higher hiring incentives ranging from $20,000 to $25,000 for mechanics, electricians and railcar repair workers in Texas, North Dakota, Illinois, California, Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Washington and Kansas.

"Hiring has become more difficult," Amy Casas, a BNSF spokeswoman, told the Dallas Business Journal. "This year, BNSF expects to fill more than 3,500 hourly positions across our network in areas including our transportation, engineering, dispatching and mechanical crafts."

Military veteran Sierra Bibbs shows you her job fueling and preparing BNSF Railway trains.

Job openings listed on the Union Pacific website also indicate it's offering hiring bonuses up to $25,000 for similar jobs in states such as Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oregon and Colorado.

Sign-on bonuses from both companies are paid out over a three-year period to qualified candidates, the job postings say.

To get the full amount, the job ads say, workers are required to stay with the company for a certain length of time or else workers may have to repay what they received.

At BNSF, they call it a "three-year hold-down." A worker who leaves the location or job within three years of getting hired "will result in 100 percent repayment and forfeiture of future payments," BNSF job ads said.

Other requirements BNSF hires are expected to undergo include completing a pre-employment process and a probationary period.

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