A Warning to any who wish to work for Class 1 Railroads

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Railmonkey

New Member
Just a friendly warning to any interested- if you love trains, are a railfan or young person who fantasizes about railroading. Take a serious look at job boards and forums of people who do the job. You will find much anguish and anger from workers. The railroads currently are on a kick with "Precision Scheduled Railroading" (PSR) a scheme designed by former Hunter Harrison to cut Railroads operating ratios/finances to bare minimum levels in order to maximize profits. This meanings firing workers and running with skeleton crews, selling equipment to minimum levels, deferring maintenance and gutting repair shops, cutting all bonuses and entitlements to workers. In other words, trim operations to a level that is just above (in some cases below) what's needed to actually run the business to maximize shareholder returns and dividends. The effect of this right now is many of the job openings you see in transportation departments (conductor, engineer) are because they laid off up to 30% of their workers, then when they realized they cut too much tried to get them to come back and they all didn't. So they are desperate right now because in some cases they are running at only 30% manpower on extraboards, short on assigned jobs and have no one to cover people who are called off sick or vacation. So they want the people they do have to work 24/7 and never call off under threat of discipline. You start as a conductor on a 5 year step rate at 80% full wages and eventually when your seniority allows it you are forced to engineer school and promotion at training wages for 7-8 months- then you start at bottom again of engineer seniority. It may take you 10+ years to get to engineer school. In that time you will be on call 24/7 365. You will work most holidays and not be paid extra for them unless you are engineer. You will miss birthdays, parties and family events. You will have 2 hours to report to work when called. Then you will watched by managers who want to Fire you for small infractions. They will build a file.on you of every violation no matter how small so if you do have an accident or get fired they will have something to tell an arbitrator about how you are a terrible employee. You will have to do 30 years to get a retirement (that is excellent money wise) where 80% of people drawing on it are widows of their dead husband's who worked for RR. Sleep apnea and health problems tend to plague a majority of rail workers. You will be in hotels and away from home for days at a time, have 10 hours at home and then get called right out to do it again. There are jobs which are scheduled but the guys who can hold them have 20+ years of seniority. The fun of trains quickly goes away when you realize you dirty, loud and dangerous they are working with daily. There have been a historic level of injuries with new employees because they have been under training them to quickly put them in the field. One RR has had 8 amputation injuries in this year alone- all by employees with less than a year on the job, causing the FRA to warning them about decertifying their training program. Some conductor trainees are getting 4 weeks training when traditionally 6 months is the normal. You will work outside, in all weather at all time of the year. You will be treated as a number that is nothing but a warm body to the RR, be given no bonuses as a conductor and the engineer bonus schemes require zero call offs during the year aside from vacations and pay little in comparison of what you can make working regularly. The meal allowances have been the same for the last 16 years and the RR's are 2 years past the last contract expiration. They want to raise the health insurance to $500/mo when in the past it was free. The 2 Unions fight with each other and upper levels take payoffs from RR to sell you out. You aren't allowed to strike and pay over $100/mo Union dues because you are forced to join one. Currently the RR's want to eliminate conductor and go to one man crews in order to save more money, putting 1 man controlling a 30,000 ton, 200+ car train that is over 10,000 feet long. And controlling is a loose word because they have computers automatically running the trains now and if you don't let the computer operate you are disciplined. Of the computer speeds by accident or starts to speed before you can react fast enough you will be automatically "enforced"(read emergency braking) by it and they will treat this as a stop signal violation and fire you for up to a year (or permanently). Or cause you to be decertifed and lose your Federal Engineer license so you can't find another RR job. You will be able to ride down the tracks and see sights and people wave and take photos as you blow the crossing, but it gets old after years. The job isn't what it used to be. Read up and be warned- the job market is really good right now, find something else and don't let the RR's or your love of trains suck you into a black pit of despair. If you are a single, young person the job may work for you because you have no ties to anything, just forget your party life and bar hopping. And forget dating or marriage because it's hard to keep as date more than a day ahead of time. Same with appointments you won't be able to schedule Dr appt, dentist or anything with firm certainty ahead of time. Divorce rates are high. Do your own research but know there are guys right now with over 10 years on RR leaving to go other places. The cycle of greed and disdain for its own workers hascome to a fever pitch of past 2 years and it won't stop, getting rid of the conductor is the next step in evolving RR "business".

You are warned.....
 

SignalForeman

New Member
I have worked for the railroad for 20 years. 2 years on a class 1 freight and the rest on a commuter rail. I have seen so much happen to so many people. People getting hurt due to poor working conditions and the company terminating them and going after them legally to keep them from regaining their jobs back. People pulled out of service for not answering calls quick enough or not getting to a jobsite of a trouble call fast enough, and so many other reasons. I work with a company called LECMPA, aside from my railroad job. LECMPA offers job protection insurance to railroad and transportation workers in case of termination. Not trying to make a shameless plug here or sell anything, though I will answer questions if anyone asks. But just the fact that such products have to exist tells you ALOT about the industry.
 

bnsf971

Roadmaster
I have worked for the railroad for 20 years. 2 years on a class 1 freight and the rest on a commuter rail. I have seen so much happen to so many people. People getting hurt due to poor working conditions and the company terminating them and going after them legally to keep them from regaining their jobs back. People pulled out of service for not answering calls quick enough or not getting to a jobsite of a trouble call fast enough, and so many other reasons. I work with a company called LECMPA, aside from my railroad job. LECMPA offers job protection insurance to railroad and transportation workers in case of termination. Not trying to make a shameless plug here or sell anything, though I will answer questions if anyone asks. But just the fact that such products have to exist tells you ALOT about the industry.
Unfortunately, the Railroad industry doesn't have the market cornered on this stuff. A manager where I worked was supposed to get a huge bonus at the 60 day mark, he was summarily fired on day 59. I'm sure it was just a coincidence about the timing...
 

afleetcommand

New Member
Sounds like a lot of high way departments, I got out of one after 15 years. Was Union member even pres. The hours were killer, and like you described heart issues relative to Sleep apnea are the norm not the exception. And the liability in the plow trucks is ridiculous, nod out & veer into oncoming traffic and those huge can openers will spill the contents of a car all over the road. And those messy things happen more than you would think. No computers to fall back on. I was fortunate to get seniority and move to night shift where we could maintain our trucks but also there was less traffic. They eliminated that and now have a 12 hour shift for the guys there now. Understand the travel, my first career was international tech support and sales. Never home. Bounce from one plane to the next. Show up home Friday night to leave Sunday , one week in Japan, the next in Germany. Then a month in another city stateside. THAT cost me a family. So yup I get it My advice? The type who can actually operate equipment of any kind would do better having their own business. I did excavation. MUCH better than being on some one else's meat grinder.
 

SouthernRailFan3415

SouthernRailfan3415
Just a friendly warning to any interested- if you love trains, are a railfan or young person who fantasizes about railroading. Take a serious look at job boards and forums of people who do the job. You will find much anguish and anger from workers. The railroads currently are on a kick with "Precision Scheduled Railroading" (PSR) a scheme designed by former Hunter Harrison to cut Railroads operating ratios/finances to bare minimum levels in order to maximize profits. This meanings firing workers and running with skeleton crews, selling equipment to minimum levels, deferring maintenance and gutting repair shops, cutting all bonuses and entitlements to workers. In other words, trim operations to a level that is just above (in some cases below) what's needed to actually run the business to maximize shareholder returns and dividends. The effect of this right now is many of the job openings you see in transportation departments (conductor, engineer) are because they laid off up to 30% of their workers, then when they realized they cut too much tried to get them to come back and they all didn't. So they are desperate right now because in some cases they are running at only 30% manpower on extraboards, short on assigned jobs and have no one to cover people who are called off sick or vacation. So they want the people they do have to work 24/7 and never call off under threat of discipline. You start as a conductor on a 5 year step rate at 80% full wages and eventually when your seniority allows it you are forced to engineer school and promotion at training wages for 7-8 months- then you start at bottom again of engineer seniority. It may take you 10+ years to get to engineer school. In that time you will be on call 24/7 365. You will work most holidays and not be paid extra for them unless you are engineer. You will miss birthdays, parties and family events. You will have 2 hours to report to work when called. Then you will watched by managers who want to Fire you for small infractions. They will build a file.on you of every violation no matter how small so if you do have an accident or get fired they will have something to tell an arbitrator about how you are a terrible employee. You will have to do 30 years to get a retirement (that is excellent money wise) where 80% of people drawing on it are widows of their dead husband's who worked for RR. Sleep apnea and health problems tend to plague a majority of rail workers. You will be in hotels and away from home for days at a time, have 10 hours at home and then get called right out to do it again. There are jobs which are scheduled but the guys who can hold them have 20+ years of seniority. The fun of trains quickly goes away when you realize you dirty, loud and dangerous they are working with daily. There have been a historic level of injuries with new employees because they have been under training them to quickly put them in the field. One RR has had 8 amputation injuries in this year alone- all by employees with less than a year on the job, causing the FRA to warning them about decertifying their training program. Some conductor trainees are getting 4 weeks training when traditionally 6 months is the normal. You will work outside, in all weather at all time of the year. You will be treated as a number that is nothing but a warm body to the RR, be given no bonuses as a conductor and the engineer bonus schemes require zero call offs during the year aside from vacations and pay little in comparison of what you can make working regularly. The meal allowances have been the same for the last 16 years and the RR's are 2 years past the last contract expiration. They want to raise the health insurance to $500/mo when in the past it was free. The 2 Unions fight with each other and upper levels take payoffs from RR to sell you out. You aren't allowed to strike and pay over $100/mo Union dues because you are forced to join one. Currently the RR's want to eliminate conductor and go to one man crews in order to save more money, putting 1 man controlling a 30,000 ton, 200+ car train that is over 10,000 feet long. And controlling is a loose word because they have computers automatically running the trains now and if you don't let the computer operate you are disciplined. Of the computer speeds by accident or starts to speed before you can react fast enough you will be automatically "enforced"(read emergency braking) by it and they will treat this as a stop signal violation and fire you for up to a year (or permanently). Or cause you to be decertifed and lose your Federal Engineer license so you can't find another RR job. You will be able to ride down the tracks and see sights and people wave and take photos as you blow the crossing, but it gets old after years. The job isn't what it used to be. Read up and be warned- the job market is really good right now, find something else and don't let the RR's or your love of trains suck you into a black pit of despair. If you are a single, young person the job may work for you because you have no ties to anything, just forget your party life and bar hopping. And forget dating or marriage because it's hard to keep as date more than a day ahead of time. Same with appointments you won't be able to schedule Dr appt, dentist or anything with firm certainty ahead of time. Divorce rates are high. Do your own research but know there are guys right now with over 10 years on RR leaving to go other places. The cycle of greed and disdain for its own workers hascome to a fever pitch of past 2 years and it won't stop, getting rid of the conductor is the next step in evolving RR "business".

You are warned.....
sheeesh
 




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