Crew size

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 9:25 PM

Obviously,  but that is not the thrust what it appeared Randy Stahl was saying.  Unless I am totally mistaken,  neither he not any other engineer can refuse to accept a duly assigned, qualified conductor.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 9:31 PM

charlie hebdo
Obviously,  but that is not the thrust what it appeared Randy Stahl was saying.  Unless I am totally mistaken,  neither he not any other engineer can refuse to accept a duly assigned, qualified conductor.

Correct - they can also require that they WORK, not sleep.

I have also had to recrew trains where the engineer and conductor where in physical combat with each other; various causes.

I was not always a Dispatcher - 8 years as a Weed Weasel.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:01 PM

BaltACD

 

 
charlie hebdo
Obviously,  but that is not the thrust what it appeared Randy Stahl was saying.  Unless I am totally mistaken,  neither he not any other engineer can refuse to accept a duly assigned, qualified conductor.

 

Correct - they can also require that they WORK, not sleep.

I have also had to recrew trains where the engineer and conductor where in physical combat with each other; various causes.

I was not always a Dispatcher - 8 years as a Weed Weasel.

 

Interesting admission but you are not answering the question I asked. 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:26 PM

This begs a question I've asked here before. Who is in charge? From what I can discern, nowadays it's the engineer. But it seems like the lines of authority must be pretty blurry if a conductor is asleep, and the engineer is on the ground throwing switches. That's shocking to me.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:35 PM

Lithonia Operator

This begs a question I've asked here before. Who is in charge? From what I can discern, nowadays it's the engineer. But it seems like the lines of authority must be pretty blurry if a conductor is asleep, and the engineer is on the ground throwing switches. That's shocking to me.

 

No one seems to want to answer.  Perhaps the line of authority is blurry. 

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 10:42 PM

charlie hebdo
Interesting admission but you are not answering the question I asked. 

Can an engineer refuse to work with a conductor (and vice versa)?

I suspect you have to go to the contract for that.

If the other crew member is clearly not fit for duty, it's time for management to step in anyhow.  

If it's because Fred and Joe don't get along (perhaps even to the point of fisticuffs). it's time for management to step in.

If the two employees do have such a history, odds are a lot of people are aware of it.  I'd opine that one of them will be assigned elsewhere, if possible.  If their behavior crosses the line, they'll probably be out the door.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:26 PM

charlie hebdo

 

 
Lithonia Operator

This begs a question I've asked here before. Who is in charge? From what I can discern, nowadays it's the engineer. But it seems like the lines of authority must be pretty blurry if a conductor is asleep, and the engineer is on the ground throwing switches. That's shocking to me.

 

 

 

No one seems to want to answer.  Perhaps the line of authority is blurry. 

 

I've had conductors who were 'deep in thought' before.  But never so deep that they couldn't do their work on the ground.  And if they were, they wouldn't be in so deep for much longer.

The conductor is in charge.  In the conductor's absence, then the engineer becomes in charge.  Although in reality, there's not much left to be in charge for.  Mostly what moves to make when setting out or picking up.  Deciding whether a car is safe to move when stopped by a detector and the defect can't be corrected by the limited tools carried on the train.

As communication became easier between management and field employees, the autonomy that the field employees used to have has waned.  

Jeff

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:41 PM

BaltACD

 

 
charlie hebdo
Obviously,  but that is not the thrust what it appeared Randy Stahl was saying.  Unless I am totally mistaken,  neither he not any other engineer can refuse to accept a duly assigned, qualified conductor.

 

Correct - they can also require that they WORK, not sleep.

I have also had to recrew trains where the engineer and conductor where in physical combat with each other; various causes.

I was not always a Dispatcher - 8 years as a Weed Weasel.

 

You always have the option of not accepting the call.  I've heard of conductors who wouldn't work with certain engineers.  They'll lay off if they look like they're lining up with them.  What's rare, but I've heard of it happening, is someone telling managment ahead of time that they will refuse to work with a certain person because they are unsafe.

I haven't been in that situation.  There are conductors whom I prefer to work with and some I would prefer not to work with.  It's less about safety and more about attitude and/or ability to doing the work.  (Some are better than others when it comes to working on the ground.  When most of our trains were get on/get off, it wasn't as much of an issue.  Now when almost all our trains do work at some point in the trip, it's become more of an issue.)

Jeff 

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Posted by Randy Stahl on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 5:28 AM

charlie hebdo

So Randy,  did you have veto power over which conductors were in the cab with you?  Or is Balt's remark factual?  Both are not correct.

 

I cannot refuse an assigned crew member.

 

It's not my job to supervise them. I could certainly complain but that has never worked out for me in the past. When we started having engineer only trains everyone had to become an engineer. those who didn't were soon gone, I didn't mind sharing the cab with another engineer, they seemed to get it.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 6:58 AM

So in summary,  it seems that the conductor is nominally in charge and that the engineer cannot refuse to accept a conductor on the engine nor "supervise" him or her, all depending on the contract. Correct? 

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 8:53 AM

The conductor is in charge of the crew.  Everyone is required to do their job.  If one crewmember fails to do their job, another crew member can report them to the company.  If that happens, and the person still refuses to do their job, I suppose the person who reported them could walk off the job if they feel they have a case that their job is made unsafe by the fact that the reported employee is not doing their job.   

I have never heard of any rule or contract that would give the engineer veto power over the company on the choice of the conductor they called to work with the engineer.  I have also never heard of any engineer instituting a standing order with the company that automatically excludes certain conductors to be called to work with that engineer. 

However, I don’t believe this is what Balt meant when he said, “You get the kind of Conductor you allow in YOUR cab.”  By “allow,” I believe he meant “allow” in terms of allowing the conductor to not do his job.  In other words, an employee on a crew does not have to accept the fact that a fellow crewmember is not doing their job. If a crewmember were forced to do their job plus someone else’s job, then they would be doing two jobs instead of one and they should be paid double. 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 9:43 AM

That wasn't the question and the engineer is not the boss,  apparently.  Pulling rank and refusing to work for/with a conductor sounds like a path to trouble. 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 9:56 AM

charlie hebdo
That wasn't the question and the engineer is not the boss,  apparently.  Pulling rank and refusing to work for/with a conductor sounds like a path to trouble. 

I believe the gist of the original comment(s) involved not so much a 'refusal' to work with certain individuals, but selectively 'marking off', coming down with a sudden "illness", or whatever when finding out they are called along with you.  

Further suspect this gets to be a fine art among a given group of railroaders when they come to dislike or distrust a particular employee.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:00 AM

charlie hebdo

So in summary,  it seems that the conductor is nominally in charge and that the engineer cannot refuse to accept a conductor on the engine nor "supervise" him or her, all depending on the contract. Correct? 

The conductor is, without question, in charge of the train.  

As to the relationship between the conductor and the engineer, I go to that of the officer on a fire apparatus and the driver/operator.  The officer is in charge of the crew, but operating the apparatus is the bailiwick of the chauffeur.  

My takeaway is that (barring further information), you get the crew you drew.  However, while you can't outright refuse to work with a crew member (fitness for duty notwithstanding), there are ways to avoid working with a bad apple.

That said, in both a locomotive cab and a fire apparatus, the idea is to run as a team to get the job done.  The conductor is in charge, the engineer pulls the handles, but in some tasks - like calling signals, f'rinstance - they are co-equals.

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:09 AM

charlie hebdo

That wasn't the question and the engineer is not the boss,  apparently.  Pulling rank and refusing to work for/with a conductor sounds like a path to trouble. 

 

I don't know if you are replying to what I said, but if you were, what do you mean when you say "the engineer is not the boss"?  And when you say, "that wasn't the question," let me ask you what the question was. 

I said the conductor is the boss.  But any crewmember can refuse to work with someone who is not doing their job, or not working safely.  Although the company will ultimately decide if the complainer has a valid point. 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:15 AM

tree68
The conductor is in charge, the engineer pulls the handles, but in some tasks - like calling signals, f'rinstance - they are co-equals.

If I might comment a bit on the semantics -- this is no longer the sort of situation as Freeman Hubbard described on the old Erie where the engineer and conductor duked it out for supremacy.

If you look at operational definitions of railroading, the purpose of 'running a train' is to get freight safely through, for money.  The conductor is responsible for the physical train, and the freight on it.  The engineer does a whole lot more than 'pull the little handles', but he is only responsible for the movement of the train, not its integrity or its value.  

So the conductor is nominally 'in charge' of the part of the train that makes the money, and with that responsibility comes at least some of the authority to determine how and where that train moves.  That does not involve the much greater skill required to physically handle the movement ... which is why many railroads not only expect conductors to subsequently train further as engineers, but actually fire them if they fail to learn and then transfer to engine service: this being scarcely what anyone in nominal 'control' over a train would be expected to do.

With respect to the safety both of the consist and its movement, both the engineer and conductor are concerned.  It is not surprising that they share an interest in the details concerning that safety, and in following the rules that apply to both while working.  We've already commented on the peculiarity that the engineer is responsible for confirming the sense of a signal indication, but can't write it down without stopping, while the conductor has nothing to do with 'pulling the handles' in response to the signal, but does have to write it down.

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:17 AM

charlie hebdo

Obviously,  but that is not the thrust what it appeared Randy Stahl was saying.  Unless I am totally mistaken,  neither he not any other engineer can refuse to accept a duly assigned, qualified conductor.

 

If your question is whether or not what you said in red (my highlight), is true.  The answer is yes, it is true.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 10:23 AM

Overmod
 The engineer does a whole lot more than 'pull the little handles',

Agreed.  I was being simplistic.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 12:18 PM

How often can an engineer or conductor mark off without incurring the wrath of management?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 2:05 PM

tree68

 

 
charlie hebdo

So in summary,  it seems that the conductor is nominally in charge and that the engineer cannot refuse to accept a conductor on the engine nor "supervise" him or her, all depending on the contract. Correct? 

 

The conductor is, without question, in charge of the train.  

As to the relationship between the conductor and the engineer, I go to that of the officer on a fire apparatus and the driver/operator.  The officer is in charge of the crew, but operating the apparatus is the bailiwick of the chauffeur.  

My takeaway is that (barring further information), you get the crew you drew.  However, while you can't outright refuse to work with a crew member (fitness for duty notwithstanding), there are ways to avoid working with a bad apple.

That said, in both a locomotive cab and a fire apparatus, the idea is to run as a team to get the job done.  The conductor is in charge, the engineer pulls the handles, but in some tasks - like calling signals, f'rinstance - they are co-equals.

 

Larry,  you working on a shortline,  tourist operation and EMT.  The latter is not comparable.  Is your railroad unionized?  Is there conductor in the cab?  If either of those answers are "no" then your situation is not really relevant. 

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 2:15 PM

charlie hebdo
Larry,  you working on a shortline,  tourist operation and EMT.  The latter is not comparable.  Is your railroad unionized?  Is there conductor in the cab?  If either of those answers are "no" then your situation is not really relevant. 

So?  Relevant or not, I believe what I offered is accurate.

As to unions, that's why I referenced the contract - which can vary from railroad to railroad, and even to various divisions inherited from predecessor lines.

Even as a volunteer engineer or conductor, I can dislike who I have to work with.  Refusing to work with them might leave the railroad unable to provide the advertised service.  Will I be fired?  Not likely, but possible - I'm going to have to deal with a very angry management, faced as they will be with paying out refunds, etc.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, February 13, 2020 1:11 PM

Lithonia Operator

How often can an engineer or conductor mark off without incurring the wrath of management?

 

Sir Winston said it best, and he wasn't talking about railroads.  It's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. 

The attendence policies are written to be clear as mud and seem to change on a regular schedule.  You almost have to ask a manager on where you stand on attendence.  (Unless one doesn't layoff very often.)  Only uncompensated time off counts toward attendence.  If you get paid for the time off (personal leave or vacation for example) doesn't count.  Neither does unpaid Family Medical Leave or union officers layed off for union business. 

What's tracked is how often, when (like week ends, holidays including holidays that normally aren't recognized as such.) and any discernable pattern.  They also compare hours between peers.  They are using a letter grade (A to F) but it sounds like this may be changing.  A person could drop a grade without laying off because a number of others in the group might have upgraded.  They like to use a "rolling" 90 day checking period.  It was said that if you spaced it right and avoided weekends (Which include any time off after 1201AM Friday.  Layoffs are normally in 24 hour periods.  Layoff at 1am on a Thursday and mark back up at 1am on Friday and you've been considered to be laid off on a weekend day.), A person could layoff 5 times in a 90 day period.

My conductor showed me a draft of a new policy that would ease the weekend definition by 6 hours, but has a few unclear passages, too.  Suffice it to say it would tighten up uncompensated layoffs to 2 or 4 in 90 days, depending on the assignment being worked and how those passages are interpreted.  It will use a point system, kind of like the old "brownie" demerit system.

One big difference is now if a person goes to investigation and is found guilty, they have second chances and probation offered.  The new system sounds like if you're found guilty (and you almost always will be) it's immediate dismissal.  That's what happens when they have surplus people and want to trim the workforce.

Jeff 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, February 13, 2020 3:31 PM

Reminds me of the story of a manager who said that there was concern because twenty percent of sick days were taken on Mondays...  Or maybe it was Fridays...

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Posted by Juniata Man on Thursday, February 13, 2020 3:36 PM

Jeff:

After reading some of your comments on here as well as those of a few of the other rails; then listening to some of the stories my conductor son has shared with me; I have about concluded the candidates for operating management positions at most class 1's must be selected on the basis they have absolutely zero managerial or people skills.  In fact; I have to wonder how many rocks railroads must turn over to find some of these misfit managers.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 13, 2020 4:47 PM

Juniata Man
Jeff:

After reading some of your comments on here as well as those of a few of the other rails; then listening to some of the stories my conductor son has shared with me; I have about concluded the candidates for operating management positions at most class 1's must be selected on the basis they have absolutely zero managerial or people skills.  In fact; I have to wonder how many rocks railroads must turn over to find some of these misfit managers.

My observations over the final years of my career.  The carriers wanted to hire first level supervision from outside the company.  The 'announced' reason was to 'prevent cronyism' in placing employees into those supervisory positions.  The real reason is so that the first level supervisors have no place else in the railroad to go and thus if they want to maintain their employment they will embrace whatever lame brained scheme their superiors foist on them.

Promoted employees can always say 'F....U' and exercise their seniority back into their craft.

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Posted by Juniata Man on Thursday, February 13, 2020 5:34 PM

Balt:

I'll take issue with but a single comment in your post; specifically that these folks have no where else to go on the railroad.  

Seems to me that a significant number of them must be holding senior positions in Jax, Atlanta and Omaha if the quality of decision making coming from the ivory towers is any indication.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:30 PM

Juniata Man
Balt:

I'll take issue with but a single comment in your post; specifically that these folks have no where else to go on the railroad.  

Seems to me that a significant number of them must be holding senior positions in Jax, Atlanta and Omaha if the quality of decision making coming from the ivory towers is any indication.

The supervisory new hires of the last decade have yet to make it to policy making positions.  Those in policy positions that weren't purged in the PSR movement are now parroting PSR as a matter of political survival.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:45 PM

Juniata Man

Balt:

I'll take issue with but a single comment in your post; specifically that these folks have no where else to go on the railroad.  

Seems to me that a significant number of them must be holding senior positions in Jax, Atlanta and Omaha if the quality of decision making coming from the ivory towers is any indication.

 

Balt is kind of right about that.  Most "off the street" low level managers have no place to go if they make cuts.  They might be able to go to other locations or into other departments, but it's at the whim of the company.

Railroad management promoted from the ranks can go back if they get fed up with the job or if their job is eliminated.  A couple of years ago, our company asked all promoted managers to relinquish their craft seniority.  It wasn't required and few did that.  They were thinking about requiring candidates in the ranks to give up their seniority to be considered for management.

Jeff

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 13, 2020 10:22 PM

jeffhergert
Railroad management promoted from the ranks can go back if they get fed up with the job or if their job is eliminated.  A couple of years ago, our company asked all promoted managers to relinquish their craft seniority.  It wasn't required and few did that.  They were thinking about requiring candidates in the ranks to give up their seniority to be considered for management.

Jeff

A decade or so ago, CSX was promoting 'profit sharing' for Dispatcher pay increases, instead of the already negotiated and approved pay raises and COLA adjustments.  The company floated their idea through the Official Union voting procedure that is overseen by the NLRB - The vote was 0 For the Comany proposal and 342 against the proposal.  From the viewpoint of history, the company proposal would have ended up paying the Dispatchers roughly 1/4 of what had been obtained in the negotiated contract.

I have seen many Union votes on any number of issues - Until that vote I had NEVER seen a vote that was unanimous on any question.  Shows the trust in the company - and that was before EHH and PSR.  

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:18 PM

BaltACD

Promoted employees can always say 'F....U' and exercise their seniority back into their craft.

We only hold our turn in seniority for one year.  After that we can still go back to the ranks, but would start over at the bottom of the seniority list. 

Before Hunter came to CN, promoted former unionized employees would hold their turn in seniority forever as long as they continued to pay union dues.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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