Crew size

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:50 PM

jeffhergert
SD70Dude
jeffhergert
SFbrkmn

This entire cartoon that the carriers developed is not just of the craft of condr. This also involved the future of the engr craft. The whole idea behind this is throwing everyone off the train, in stages. The enginers cannot be touched until  condrs go. The craft of condr is the last line of defense.Once we go, then one or two contracts down the road, you will know what will be next.

We're all just 'train trash' anyway.  That's how some in management/management support people in the HQ building see us.  Except for the unnamed senior executive who allegedly said we're just "overpaid McDonald's workers."

I think there's a few on here that probably feel that way, too.

Jeff

Surely you've heard Hunter's nicknames for us?  (I can't print them here)

No, but you can PM me.  I can just imagine.

Although, he didn't believe in single person crews.  Go figure.

Jeff 

I'll see what I can do.  The forum software will probably automatically censor one of them.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:44 PM

SD70Dude

 

 
jeffhergert
SFbrkmn

This entire cartoon that the carriers developed is not just of the craft of condr. This also involved the future of the engr craft. The whole idea behind this is throwing everyone off the train, in stages. The enginers cannot be touched until  condrs go. The craft of condr is the last line of defense.Once we go, then one or two contracts down the road, you will know what will be next.

We're all just 'train trash' anyway.  That's how some in management/management support people in the HQ building see us.  Except for the unnamed senior executive who allegedly said we're just "overpaid McDonald's workers."

I think there's a few on here that probably feel that way, too.

Jeff

 

 

Surely you've heard Hunter's nicknames for us?  (I can't print them here)

 

No, but you can PM me.  I can just imagine.

Although, he didn't believe in single person crews.  Go figure.

Jeff 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:29 PM

jeffhergert
SFbrkmn

This entire cartoon that the carriers developed is not just of the craft of condr. This also involved the future of the engr craft. The whole idea behind this is throwing everyone off the train, in stages. The enginers cannot be touched until  condrs go. The craft of condr is the last line of defense.Once we go, then one or two contracts down the road, you will know what will be next.

We're all just 'train trash' anyway.  That's how some in management/management support people in the HQ building see us.  Except for the unnamed senior executive who allegedly said we're just "overpaid McDonald's workers."

I think there's a few on here that probably feel that way, too.

Jeff

Surely you've heard Hunter's nicknames for us?  (I can't print them here)

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:28 PM

BaltACD
SD70Dude
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.

So Canadian Unions let Hunter dictate their membership and seniority requirements?  Or did the Unions say F...U to their members that accepted promotion.

Unfortunately, there was support for this action from both management and the union leadership at the time.  Hunter didn't want managers to have the option of going back to the ranks, and there were certain individuals within the union who did not like employees being able to come back from management 20 years later and bump someone who they had been supervising.

Having had to deal with 'off the street' trainmasters for many years now, many of those who supported that decision at the time now realize how wrong they were.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:15 PM

SFbrkmn

This entire cartoon that the carriers developed is not just of the craft of condr. This also involved the future of the engr craft. The whole idea behind this is throwing everyone off the train, in stages. The enginers cannot be touched until  condrs go. The craft of condr is the last line of defense.Once we go, then one or two contracts down the road, you will know what will be next.

 

We're all just 'train trash' anyway.  That's how some in management/management support people in the HQ building see us.  Except for the unnamed senior executive who allegedly said we're just "overpaid McDonald's workers."

I think there's a few on here that probably feel that way, too.

Jeff

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, February 14, 2020 4:41 PM

Sunnyland
Maybe another person in cab would have prevented the terrible crash in Philly in 2015 when Bostian had lost awareness of where he was, another set of eyes might have helped and saved lives.  Not a good idea as far as I am concerned.  

While I think freight trains should have two experienced persons for safety, I doubt that they are necessary on Passenger trains where the schedule is regular and other crew are available on board. When people say that the second person would prevent x or y, I remember the Newark Bay CRRNJ accident in 1958.

The Newark Bay rail accident occurred on September 15, 1958 in Newark BayNew Jersey. A Central Railroad of New Jersey (CRRNJ) morning commuter train, #3314, ran through a restricting and a stop signalderailed, and slid off the open Newark Bay lift bridge. Both diesel locomotives and the first two coaches plunged into Newark Bay and sank immediately, killing 48 people and injuring the same number.[1] A third coach, snagged by its rear truck (bogie), hung precariously off the lift bridge for two hours before it also toppled into the water. As the locomotive crew was killed, the cause of the accident was never determined, and was never reinvestigated.


The bridge (Lift) was part way up and the counterweight not yet blocking the track and there was no cab signal nor ATS to automatically stop the train. What good did having a fireman do? Were both asleep? The recent CSX derailment near Elkhorn City is one where two crew persons should be available even though access is available. I don't know how accesable the ROW is where Indiana RR operates but they appear to be successful. And I think that any operation where there is no good access to the ROW from a highway should have two persons aboard. If for some reason the engineer becomes unable to operate the train and can't call for help (say they choke on something or have a stroke, there should be someone to call for help. On a passenger train, the conductor will be available when the dead man device or alerter stops the train, but in the middle of nowhere (such as a canyon or in a tunnel) on a freight, who's going to call for help.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, February 14, 2020 3:42 PM

Sunnyland
Maybe another person in cab would have prevented the terrible crash in Philly in 2015 when Bostian had lost awareness of where he was, another set of eyes might have helped and saved lives.  Not a good idea as far as I am concerned.  

Remember, Bostain had made the trip from NYC to DC operating a Acela run and without a rest period, was turned back on a NE Regional run with a Sprinter from DC back to NYC.  I believe the run between NYC and DC is 228 miles in each direction.  The runs between NYC and DC are normally less than 4 hours.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Friday, February 14, 2020 3:35 PM

I have a friend who is  a retired engineer, started with Q as fireman when he was 16, and it was 3 years before he could move to right side. He went thru many transitions from BN to BNSF. Even worked for C&S.  He and his union BLET is very much against only 1 person in a cab. He has been in situations when he needed an extra set of eyes or ears, and he worked in the days when they still had head brakeman and 2-3 men in caboose.  Now when  a train breaks apart or goes into emergency, the conductor has to get out and walk the train maybe a couple of miles to find the problem and try to fix it. An engineer  can never leave the cab so there has been talk about a conductor on call in a roving van coming to look and try to fix problem. But many tracks are in rural areas where there is no road nearby, so the conductor might have to walk a mile or two before he even gets to the train.  Does not sound like a very efficient way to run a train or a railroad, it's all about the bottom line and saving the money paid for second crew person. They don't seem to really care about safety or employees being too tired and should not be working.    On Amtrak I heard they use only one person in cab if run is less than 500 miles and most of them don't run that far with all the crew change points. City of New Orleans changes engineers 4 times on run from Chicago to NOLA, new one at Carbondale, then Memphis and then Jackson.Conductors only change 3 times on the run, so they travel farther.   Maybe another person in cab would have prevented the terrible crash in Philly in 2015 when Bostian had lost awareness of where he was, another set of eyes might have helped and saved lives.  Not a good idea as far as I am concerned.  

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Posted by SFbrkmn on Friday, February 14, 2020 1:27 PM

This entire cartoon that the carriers developed is not just of the craft of condr. This also involved the future of the engr craft. The whole idea behind this is throwing everyone off the train, in stages. The enginers cannot be touched until  condrs go. The craft of condr is the last line of defense.Once we go, then one or two contracts down the road, you will know what will be next.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, February 14, 2020 8:01 AM

SD70Dude
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.

So Canadian Unions let Hunter dictate their membership and seniority requirements?  Or did the Unions say F...U to their members that accepted promotion.

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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.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 10:09 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 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.

LarryWhistling
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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 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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