Home Open Account Help 272 users online

Railroaders' Nostalgia > More misguided management meanness.

Date: 07/16/20 15:53
More misguided management meanness.
Author: eminence_grise

Throughout much of my career as an operating employee, I purchased out of service insurance which would pay out should I be pulled out of service.

At various times, the management team from the CEO all the way to the assistant superintendents seemed to go on a firing rampage for even minor rules infractions.

The railway I worked for had a procedure regarding the possible reinstatement of fired employees. The union local chairman would ask for the railway to reconsider the dismissal.
The company would initially reply "No way, .....'s infraction was serious, we don't want him/her back"  Every three months, the local chair would send another letter, and carefully read the company response, which would usually change to "Not at this time, we will reconsider this issue at a future date".  There was an unofficial time limit on this process, if the person fired was not re-instated in two years less a day, they were not getting back ever. It was not unusual for the railway to wait right until the last day to allow reinstatement.

Some where fired forever, and again, at a certain time the company and the union would have a meeting and tell the employee that he/she was never getting back.

It was standard procedure to take long suspensions and dismissals to arbitration. Occasionally, the arbitrator (an independent third party) would overturn dismissals.

The arbitrator would always ask for back wages to be paid, again the railway would strongly object to paying back wages and appeal the arbitrators decision, sometimes successfully.

In one case, the company appealed the arbitrators decision to award back wages by pointing out that the employee had out of service insurance. They said that suspensions and dismissals were meant to be a punishment which included financial hardship for the person dismissed. The old "justice must be seen to be done" argument, seeing the plight of the person dismissed should be a lesson to other employees.

Should the railway have been successful in this argument, it would have put the whole out of service insurance business in peril, so a lawyer intervened an the arbitration process.

He pointed out that whether the employee had out of service insurance or not was none of the railway's business, also that the insurance company offered several levels of protection, and the level of protection purchased by the employee was a confidential matter between the employee and the insurance company. 

The arbitrator dismissed the railway's appeal and chastised them for not understanding the nature of insurance. Of course, the railway lawyer just shrugged, but the company officers present turned on the officer who had appealed the decision. His penalty, a round of drinks at "Mens Night" at a favourite golf resort.

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/20 09:12 by eminence_grise.

Date: 07/17/20 00:48
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: Drknow

And the small thinking by small people continues to this very day.

Posted from iPhone

Date: 07/17/20 05:15
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: atsfer

Good old job insurance, a necessary evil as the RR would fire an entire crew just to get at one individual they were mad at.   Discipline was all over the map, if the super was mad at you and you missed a call for the first time in 7 years, you could get a 30 day suspension, harsh and unusual punishment.(job insurance will not pay for missing calls I believe)  If he liked you, you could be involved in an incident that caused thousands of dollars damage and get nothing for discipline.   The attitude towards the employees clearly trickled down.   I saw the good, the bad and the ugly when it came to attitudes from your immediate supervisors which they were carrying out from orders from above sometimes all the way to the CEO.   The law board mentioned in this article is very accurate, could be a real crap shoot, but it was your only hope against the injustice the RR could dish out.  Now, with the big brother computer monitoring everything from your time off to exactly when you blow the whistle, well, glad I am retired, it's not getting easier.

Date: 07/17/20 06:57
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: HardYellow

This sounds like the CSX. My son went through the exact same ordeal. Written up by Tranimaster  for working unsafely, allowed to work the rest of the shift, no drug test. He coupling up the wrong bowl track. Next morning was pulled out of service by Jacksonville, investigation in 30 days. Terminal Supt. wanted him back, Asst. Div. Manager said no and terminated him. For a year, they kept telling him he would be coming back then at Christmas told him Jacksonville/Labor Relations was taking it to the Labor Board. After two years, Labor Board ruled in CSX's favor. At the hearing, there were 13 cases from just the Atlanta Division. Serious enough to be FIRED, but allowed to work the rest of shift and no drug test??

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/20 08:34 by HardYellow.

Date: 07/17/20 09:31
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: Juniata

I sometimes think the most effective form of automation would be to employ robots to replace management. If properly programmed, they wouldn’t be near as capricious and unfit for human interaction as many of the human managers we’ve all had to deal with.

Posted from iPhone

Date: 07/17/20 13:56
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: trainjunkie

Juniata Wrote:
> I sometimes think the most effective form of
> automation would be to employ robots to replace
> management. If properly programmed, they
> wouldn’t be near as capricious and unfit for
> human interaction as many of the human managers
> we’ve all had to deal with.

We have some yards that pay "footboard yardmaster" rate, meaning if there is no manager on duty there and the crews have to figure out their own work (switching, spots, pulls, etc.), the job's foreman can claim a higher rate of pay for doing that work. Funny thing is, when the yard is run that way it's 10 times more efficient and the work always gets done and is done more accurately (such as building trains). As soon as a manager shows up everything falls apart.

Date: 07/17/20 14:36
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: RRTom

As a M/W manager, there were a couple of reasons I found it justified to fire someone for good.  One was repeat offender Rule G.  I was often backed up by their coworkers whose lives the offenders endangered.  Every case I dealt with involved hard drugs, by the way.
Another was massive absenteeism that violated the policy with no excuse provided.  The work hours were regular and the absenteeism policy where I worked was not burdensome.  A guy could actually skip a lot of work and nothing was or could be done if he stuck to the policy, but sometimes guys just disappeared for long periods of time with no notice or explanation.  The decision to terminate was not mine but rather the hearing officer or whomever handled appeals, although for some less offensive cases I was consulted about making a deal which I usually agreed to, even though Jed Dodd of BMWE probably still thought I was a rotten bastard.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/20 14:44 by RRTom.

Date: 07/18/20 21:18
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: aronco

You can write all the rules, agreements and instructions you want but it still comes down to dealing with people one on one.  I was a trainmaster for Santa Fe for 18 years.  In the early days before suspensions, a demerit system ( the brown system of discipline) was used, hence the term "brownies".  Frequently, after a yard derailment or other infraction, I would settle the case by offering the employee perhaps 20 demerits for his responsibility.  If he accepted, he would sign a waiver form which could be attached to his personnel record..  If the employee was a pretty good employee, the waiver might not ever get sent in, it was somehow overlooked and stayed in my possession.  After a few uneventful months, I would return the form to the employee, telling him he might want it.  Among trainmasters, that was referred to as a pocket veto - very effective for the typical employee.  Then we had the other employee type.....often frequently late to work, or missing a call to work,  making errors that resulted in accidents or derailments, etc.  Those employees usually did not get an opportunity for a pocket veto.
One of the reasons rules enforcement has toughened in recent years is the pressure from regulators ( FRA, State PUC, etc.) to reduce accidents and injuries even further that the already declining accident/injury ratios.  About 30 years ago, RR unions pressured the FRA to increase their enforcement efforts claiming the carriers were not diligent enough in their efforts.  FRA instituted rules requiring railroad supervisors to make and document more observations of employee performance ( called commonly, tests).  This may well be an illustration of adage "be careful what you wish for - - you may get it!".


Norman Orfall
Helendale, CA
TIOGA PASS, a private railcar

Date: 07/19/20 05:26
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: atsfer

I remember the brownie system, it seemed to work pretty well for a long time.  I got a few in my time on the RR.  The new system of levels seems less flexible, that's for sure.    A pocket veto like you called it was used a lot and I saw instances where men with 50 brownies would have another incident and given more brownies(where 60 brownies was where you were fired) then having some brownies taken away so they would not be suspended.
    I met one man on the ATSF who had received the most rare of items, merits, not demerits.   He had been a chair car attendant on a passenger train and had pulled a man back to safety when he had fell in between the cars at the vestibule which had resulted in the employee tearing muscles in his arm.  
    I don't know how merits worked,  they were  like a "get out of jail" card where you could bank them to be used against demerits later on I guess.

Date: 07/19/20 08:46
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: Drknow

You do realize the Good Samaritan that tore some muscles would now have a PI file opened on him and he would be hounded for years until he either quit or got fired. He is a liability to the company for God’s sake!

Posted from iPhone

Date: 07/19/20 09:17
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: atsfer

True enough, I saw one guy who was hurt bad on the job and was permanently disabled but continued to work and would not sue the RR through the FELA act due to religious convictions.    Three years after his injury when the statute of limitations had ran out and he could no longer legally seek recourse, the RR made it so miserable for him he quit.   Saw similar things like this a lot in my career.

Date: 07/19/20 11:42
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: cewherry

Not to diminish any of the real life experiences of those that have been on the receiving end of improper
or arbitrary discipline; when I read these accounts and the subject of demerits or "Brownies" comes up
I can't help but recall a cartoon I first saw, I believe, in the pages of Railroad Magazine. In the drawing named
either "The Old Depot" or "The Old Station Agent", artist C.D. Poage in 1930 created a whimsical view of the inside
of an old time railroad depot.

I've cropped out most of the details and zoomed in on the two pieces of paper hanging on the side of the desk.
I'm sure atsfer's friend could identify with this.

A saying I remember hearing around the railroad was: 'One 'aw-dang', (or something like that), wiped out 50 'atta-boys'.



Date: 07/19/20 21:25
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: Drknow

If anything was ever the truth.....

Posted from iPhone

Date: 07/20/20 10:33
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: grafvonb49

I'd love to see the whole of that cartoon.

Date: 07/21/20 04:28
Re: More misguided management meanness.
Author: atsfer

The print is called "The old Depot" and prints of it are available on ebay.

[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0561 seconds