Railex has filed an official employee termination notification, but that doesn’t mean employees at its Walla Walla County operations referenced in the filing won’t have jobs when the termination takes effect June 30.
The notification appears to be part of the transition in ownership from Railex LLC to Union Pacific.
In a prepared statement from Union Pacific, the company said the assets in Wallula, Rotterdam, N.Y., and Delano, Calif. — all of which were acquired from Railex — “play a key role in our Food Train Network.”
The Wallula operation employs 88 people, according to the filing.
Railex is managing the facility through the transition and integration of operations, including as the facilities’ employer.
“As required by law, Railex LLC, made the appropriate state Department of Labor notifications regarding the transition,” the company said.
“Union Pacific looks forward to enhancing the transportation of fruits, vegetables and other temperature-sensitive cargo for customers across the United States.”
Union Pacific announced the acquisition of Railex’s refrigerated and cold storage distribution assets in the three communities in January. The Wallula purchase had been somewhat foreshadowed in December when the Port of Walla Walla was offered its first right of refusal opportunity.
The Wallula purchase alone was $15.5 million, according to county Assessor’s Office records. The acquisition did not include the neighboring Railex Wine Services operation. That facility, which is amid a $10 million expansion project, will continue separately.
Although financial details and plans for the facility were not announced at the time, Union Pacific said Railex would continue managing the facilities during the transition and integration of its operations with the railroad.
Wednesday’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act filing mirrors a similar public notification in New York a little more than a week ago.
The Albany Times Union reported the filing was procedural as the plant turns over to Union Pacific control and branding.
That changeover is expected July 1, which appears to follow the designated June 30 “date of separation” indicated for the Wallula facility in the filing.
Railex opened its dedicated five-day, coast-to-coast, temperature-controlled train service in 2006.
At the time of the purchase announcement, the company indicated it was poised for growth.
Union Pacific Food Trains have served Railex’s Delano and Wallula facilities, providing service from the growing Northwest and California ag production regions to the Midwest consumer base via Chicago and then into the Northeast, the company’s announcement said at the time.
Industry site SupplyChain DIVE said the acquisition demonstrated the railroad’s intent to offer more than many other rail-based food suppliers.
“Simply, the investment in Railex brings cold chain assets in-house and shows the company expects continued growth in shipments of refrigerated products, even as other types of shipments fall,” the site wrote.