HEARNE, Tex. (KBTX) – Union Pacific workers routinely travel to Hearne for work on the railroad, but they say their time off-work is a living nightmare.
Corporate policy has a contract for the employees to stay at the Oak Tree Inn, but the railroad workers say they no longer want to stay there.
“We’ve have complaints of bed bugs and bites, and also just bugs in general –big roaches, waterbugs,” said Tony White, Union Pacific SMART-TD 937 vice president.
They say the issues at the hotel have carried over into their personal lives.
“We’ve had a couple of incidents where we’ve had guys that have gotten bit and are having to go home and it infested their own homes,” said White.
Union Pacific employees say they have reported the problems multiple times to hotel management, but don’t feel like anything has been done.
“We have attempted to make negotiations and work with the hotel. They continue to tell us that they close the room and spray it, however what we see is they pop up in another room shortly thereafter,” said Tracy Bartlett, SMART-TD 937 local chairman .
Oak Tree Management provided KBTX records from their partnership with Ecolab Pest Elimination that shows the company did not find any infestation on the property.
The hotel area manager, John Bulla told KBTX in a statement:
“I would like to state that the Oak Tree Inn, as a brand, has contracted with a National Company, Ecolab, to provide professional pest control with all our locations nationwide. As a brand we take all reports of bugs in rooms, regardless of what type of bug, very seriously. Once a report has been made known to the property from a Union Pacific Employee, we follow the protocol that has been established between the Oak Tree Inn and Crew Management of Union Pacific. Part of that protocol, depending on the type of bug, is to have Ecolab come out to the hotel’s location and conduct a thorough inspection of the room and treat the room based upon their findings. A report then is populated and given to the property, in which the property then supplies Crew Management a copy of the report. As to date, Ecolab has not been able to find any infestation of any kind to our Hearne TX location. We do dispute the accusations that have been brought forward since all reports have been addressed and recorded in accordance to the agreement between Oak Tree Inn and Union Pacific. There has always been an open line of communication between our brand and Union Pacific Crew Management regardless of the scenario and our Senior Management Team has been in contact with Crew Management as late as of this afternoon.”
White said he believes there is more work still to be done.
“I think the bigger problem may be addressing the whole floor at a time or cutting off a certain area and then taking care of a big area then move onto the next. It’s a little frustrating, but hopefully with a little extra attention, maybe we’ll get the job taken care of,” said White.
“It is terrible to think that a man has to go to work and worry about coming home with insect bites, bed bug bites or any kind of travelers he picked up along the way. A person should not have to live with those kind of worries when it comes the safety of his own family,” added Bartlett.
The Union Pacific employees have asked corporate to allow them to stay at a different hotel, but the request was denied. Corporate said they are aware of the problem.
“The safety and security of our employees is a major concern for Union Pacific. When there are issues regarding lodging conditions, processes and protocols are in place to allow for employees to file complaints and for UP to follow-up to insure they are addressed. UP is aware of the concerns at this particular hotel and are working with the proprietors to address them. We have confirmed that extermination services have been performed, and UP is conducting random inspections as well. We will continue to work with the hotel operators and our employees to alleviate these issues,” said Jeff DeGraff, Union Pacific Railroad Director of Corporate Relations and Media.