Chicago Operating Team Member Focused on Safety

Earnest Pettis Jr., intermodal service employee, Main Image | L

Earnest Pettis Jr., intermodal service employee, Chicago.

Five-year railroader Earnest Pettis Jr., intermodal service employee (ISE), works outside year-round and in all weather conditions to keep Union Pacific’s intermodal trains – and America’s freight – moving.

“ISE’s operate hostler trucks, and overhead cranes or packers to load and unload containers and trailers from intermodal trains,” said Adam Atkinson, senior manager-Intermodal Operations, and Pettis’ supervisor. “They perform work on the ground, in forklifts and stackers.”

Intermodal crane at Illinois Yard Center | L

An intermodal crane in use at Pettis’ work site, Chicago’s Yard Center Intermodal Terminal.

The Chicago-area craft professional started his Union Pacific career in 2018 as a conductor at Chicago's Proviso Yard, before taking on his current role at Yard Center Intermodal Terminal in Dolton, Illinois. At Union Pacific’s Illinois yards and shops, career opportunities abound – Chicago is the nation’s busiest rail hub.

“At Union Pacific, the skills you can develop add up and give you a lot of options, including travel,” Pettis said. “It’s everything I’ve ever wanted.”

While his role has changed over time, his priorities have not as he continues to focus on coming home safely to his family.

“No matter what job I’m doing, safety is always No. 1,” he said. “You’re a little more safety conscious when you’re a father. And now that I’m a grandfather, it adds to that.”

After seeing the benefits of a railroad career, Pettis is now encouraging his 20-year-old son, Jonathan, to become a member of Team Union Pacific.

“Everyone in our group has vastly different backgrounds, experiences and upbringings,” he said. “With this team, you don’t have to ask for help – I’m glad to be part of such a tightknit, safe team.”

Together, Pettis and his ISE team members play a key role delivering a safe and efficient intermodal product for Union Pacific’s customers. 

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