Union Pacific eases workers’ schedules
OMAHA, Neb. — Engineers who operate trains for Union Pacific will soon have much more predictable schedules that will allow them to plan when they are going to be off, a change addressing one of the key quality-of-life concerns that pushed the rail industry to the brink of a strike last fall.
The Omaha, Neb.-based railroad announced a deal with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union Wednesday that will let the railway’s roughly 5,600 engineers plan on having four days off in a row after spending 11 days straight on call. Within those 11 days, there will likely be some breaks between shifts because federal rules require 24 hours off after engineers work four straight days, but it’s hard to predict where that time off will fall.
Workers said during the contract talks that demanding schedules, combined with the railroads’ strict attendance policies, were making it difficult to take time off, with train crews having the most unpredictable schedules. The engineers and conductors that operate the trains routinely get the worst of it because railroads cannot predict exactly when trains, which run around the clock, will be ready to leave.
— The Associated Press
Arvest offering new home-finance option
First-time homebuyers struggling to save a down payment now have another option available through Arvest Bank of Bentonville, the lender announced Wednesday.
Qualified borrowers can finance through the Arvest Homebuyer Advantage program and avoid down payments and private mortgage insurance fees. The first Arvest mortgage is combined with an Arvest Opportunity Fund second mortgage that closes simultaneously and is collateralized by the same property.
Borrowers are required to complete a financial-education program and credit review session before closing.
“Anyone who has purchased a home knows there is a lot to learn as a first-time homebuyer,” said Arvest Opportunity Fund Executive Director Hillis Schild. “Learning how payments will work and understanding costs like utilities and home repairs is critical.” Arvest is a privately held bank with more than $26 billion in assets and serves 110 communities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
— Andrew Moreau
1.39 drop puts index at 753.17 at day end
The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Wednesday at 753.17, down 1.39.
“Equities followed overseas markets lower despite a late afternoon bounce as weakness in treasuries pressured the financials and real estate sectors,” said Leon Lants, managing director at Stephen’s Inc.
The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.