CSX cuts 525 jobs in latest round
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Since Tuesday, CSX Corp. trimmed its workforce by 525 people companywide -- with about 325 jobs lost in Jacksonville -- as a top-down management restructuring plan announced last November reached the middle layer, according to this report by Gregory Richards published by the Florida Times-Union.
But these job cuts are "substantially completed" in the Jacksonville headquarters of CSX, which operates the country's third largest railroad, said spokesman Adam Hollingsworth.
A fourth and final round of reductions will occur in the next four to six weeks, Hollingsworth said, affecting the lower half of the company's management hierarchy.
The overhaul is intended to make the company more fast-acting and competitive but it comes with the expense of trimming 800 to 1,000 non-union jobs. Prior to this week, 140 upper-level jobs had been shed, 120 of those on the First Coast.
Employees affected this week carried the titles of manager and director, Hollingsworth said. They came from all CSX departments. Beyond Jacksonville, there were no "significant pockets" where the cuts took place. CSX's railroad operations stretch across 23 states east of the Mississippi River.
"We have a terrific group of professionals across our company," Hollingsworth said, "and while this has been a difficult process with many difficult decisions, I think all of our employees are ready to move forward."This week, affected employees at CSX's Water Street headquarters could be seen lugging what had adorned their offices out to their vehicles. One terminated employee, a man who said he had worked in CSX's sales and marketing department, pushed a cart out to his sport-utility vehicle Wednesday afternoon.
"I feel like I'm going to an execution but I'm not sure whose it is," the man, who asked his name not be printed for fear of losing his termination benefits, said he told his fiancee that morning.
The man said his next steps were unclear. He said he may try to find work in Jacksonville. Or he may return to his hometown to try to get a job in radio broadcasting.
A woman walked out with a friend, the duo carrying a cardboard box and a potted plant. The woman, who asked that her name not be used for the same reason, said she was thankful for the well-paying job CSX had provided for more than 25 years.
But she said the layoff process took way too long.
"The unconscionable thing was leaving people hanging on tenterhooks for three months," said the woman. "If you're going to be brutal and cruel, you need to do it right away."
Hollingsworth said there was no other way to remake the company. "It took time to do it right and put in place the right processes for the long term," he said.
The redesign of CSX's management is expected to save CSX $80 million to $100 million annually. It will shrink management layers from 11 to no more than eight. Analysts have said with the cuts, CSX is only doing what its peer railroads have already done.
The cuts come at a critical time for CSX, which faces a high cost structure and poor railroad performance.
At the beginning of the transformation process, 60 percent of CSX's 5,000 non-union employees were based in Jacksonville.
(The preceding report by Gregory Richards was published by the Florida Times-Union on Friday, March 26, 2004.)
March 26, 2004