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Jacksonville-based CSX To Lay Off 1,000, Change Leadership

CSX train
Nate Beal
Wikimedia Commons

CSX Corporation will lay off 1,000 management employees over the next few weeks, the Jacksonville-based company announced Tuesday.

The top two executives of CSX Corporation also announced plans to retire this spring as the railroad is in discussions with a hedge fund that wants to install the executive who led Canadian Pacific's turnaround at the Jacksonville-based railroad.

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CSX said Tuesday that chairman and CEO Michael Ward and president Clarence Gooden will both retire at the end of May. Ward previously planned to work through 2019 before retiring. CSX said it has promoted chief sales and marketing officer Fredrik Eliasson to president.

The railroad said Eliasson's appointment isn't meant to preempt discussions with Paul Hilal's Mantle Ridge hedge fund about Hunter Harrison becoming CSX's next CEO. CSX has called for a special shareholder meeting this spring so investors can weigh in on the demands that the hedge fund is making.

"The changes are part of an orderly transition of the company's senior leadership that the board has been considering for more than a year," the company said in a news release.

CSX said its involuntary separation with 1,000 workers -- the majority of them in the Jacksonville corporate office and its subsidiaries — will be completed in mid- to late March. The company said affected employees will receive separation benefits.

"Until an organization review is completed, we will not know the local impact," CSX spokesman Gary Sease said in a statement.

News4Jax was told that there are more than 2,500 CSX management employees based in Jacksonville. CSX announced it was reducing its operations at its Russell, Kentucky, facility and laying off about 100 union and management employees because to declining volume in the region.

The company said in a statement that locomotive shop workers and the engineering employees at the Kentucky site will not be affected. Some yard operations are expected to continue. In all, there are about 430 employees working at the Russell facility.

“We are grateful for these employees’ service to CSX and are committed to supporting them during this difficult time,” spokeswoman Melanie Cost said in a statement. “CSX will continue to serve its customers in and around Russell and across the state."

Originally from Washington state, Johnson moved to Jacksonville in late 2002 to work for WJXT.