Minnesota’s consistently low unemployment rate of just 2% sounds like good news, especially considering that the tight job market has pushed many employers to hike hourly wages to attract and keep workers.
But that bright employment picture also makes it tricky for companies trying to recruit new employees, even when those companies provide top-tier salaries and benefits.
That’s why the Union Pacific Railroad is now offering a hiring bonus of up to $25,000 for new recruits who come to work on its train crew in the Twin Cities.
“We are looking for some great workers to join us. We offer union jobs that pay between $71,000 and $81,000 a year,” said Chiquita Morgan, Union Pacific’s senior workforce recruiter. “These are on-call jobs with people working outside. We know workers from Minnesota are used to being out in the elements.”
Union Pacific’s benefits package offers medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage for the applicant and his or her family. Those hired for train crew jobs can also access stock options, free memberships to gyms, and free college tuition so they can pursue additional certifications and degrees while they are working.
Morgan stressed that the railroad is seeking people who want a career, not just a job. No previous railroad experience is necessary for consideration. New hires will be paid by Union Pacific while they complete a 12-week training program. Morgan said recruits who are looking for their first job are eligible for consideration starting at age 18, but “mid-career” workers are also welcome to apply.
She added that people who have held jobs in manufacturing, construction, or warehouses often make good candidates.
And she said that a felony record will not be disqualifying. “We call it a second chance program for those who’ve been in the criminal justice system,” she said. “We want to know how long ago was the crime,
what have they done since, what have they done to prepare for the workforce.”
New trainees start as switch-persons or brake-persons, working in on-the-ground traffic control. These positions can lead to advancing to positions as a conductor and/or a locomotive engineer when they are assigned to work on board a moving locomotive.
“For women and people of color, there may not be a strong tradition of railroad work. It used to be you had to know someone; their grandfather got them in. But not anymore,“ Morgan said. “If people know about these jobs, that tradition can start with them right now.”
To learn more about applying with Union Pacific: