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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Seniority in engine service


Date: 01/03/23 19:02
Seniority in engine service
Author: ApproachCircuit

It used to come so slowly that many quit. After your first trip firing , we won't count days training, you got cut off year after year, Every time there was a slack period you were cut off and I'm not talking about winter!
Now you are finally firing. But you are probably on a goat. You are not allowed to fire passenger until with some RRs 5 years experience. In some cases you are required to complete X amount of "main Line
trips" Promotion to Engr could take up to 10 years on a major road. Then you got promoted only to make a few lousy trips on a goat or local and you were cut off back to fireman. This went on for years!
So finally you can stay promoted the entire year. Now you are faced with approx 10 years either on a goat or the Engr's extra board or both. Finally you can hold a pool job but that might not allow you to
run passenger. There were also Union Politics to consider; old heads influenced the local work rules to keep you from  advancing in some cases. Finally you can catch a passenger job off of a vacancy for  afew days
or if you are lucky a bit longer depending on local "Vest Pocket" agreements. Now you can hold a good local, daylite goat or perhaps a crappy night time passenger job. This goes on for years as everyone wants to be number ONE or close to it!
Oh yeah, lets don't forget those guys , and you knew some of them, that carried a seniority roster and a rules in there grip. Before your body was cold and in the ground, thay had drawn a line thru your name!!
Things are better now because you don't have the sheer number ofpeople ahead of you like years ago. But the rat race still continues!  And there are even a few that don't enjoy their marriages anymore but keep working so their divorced
wifes can't lay claim to half their earnings. I knew a few with this attitude!



Date: 01/04/23 07:05
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: HardYellow

What railroad was this? On the Old Southern Pacific, we had what was called the "Simulator Agreement." Basically meaning, if you were promoted to engineer out of the simulator, and did not have the seniority to work as an engineer, you could work as a fireman. Back in the 1970's and 80's, many of the SP engineers got some great training and experience working as fireman on the pools and helpers.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/04/23 07:10 by HardYellow.



Date: 01/04/23 09:05
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: engineerinvirginia

Compare with nowadays...folks are clamoring to get out as soon as the stars will align and if you are not one of those you can be sure if you have the seniority to work as an engineer they will be calling you to step up even if you cannot hold an engineer job just yet. 



Date: 01/04/23 16:51
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: ln844south

On the former L&N, I was at Pensacola, FL,we had a Reserve Engineers Agreement. By then there were no Firemen left. The youngest man would be cut back to the reserve board and work as a asst. Engineer, (Firemen). Toward the end, it became known as the "Fishing Pool" since the company and BLE aggred to place up for bids and the older Engineers could bid on the, Those assigned to the "Fishing Pool" stayed home unless called when needed. Kept our younger Engineers working at 100% rate.

Steve



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/04/23 21:39 by ln844south.



Date: 01/04/23 18:09
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: engineerinvirginia

ln844south Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> On the former L&N, I was at Pensacola, FL,we had a
> Reserve Engineers Agreement. By then there were no
> Firemen left. The youngest man would be cut back
> to the reserve board and work as a asst. Engineer,
> (Firemen). Toward the end, it became none as the
> "Fishing Pool" since the company and BLE aggred to
> place up for bids and the older Engineers could
> bid on the, Those assigned to the "Fishing Pool"
> stayed home unless called when needed. Keep our
> younger Engineers working at 100% rate.
>
> Steve

Engineer Reserve Boards are a theoretical possibility on C&O...but I don't think there's been one in more than 30 years! Probably works similarly to the L&N version...though the L&N version would pay better...as L&N always did. 



Date: 01/04/23 21:07
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: CPCoyote

HardYellow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What railroad was this? On the Old Southern
> Pacific, we had what was called the "Simulator
> Agreement." Basically meaning, if you were
> promoted to engineer out of the simulator, and did
> not have the seniority to work as an engineer, you
> could work as a fireman. Back in the 1970's and
> 80's, many of the SP engineers got some great
> training and experience working as fireman on the
> pools and helpers.

When I was a young engineer on the SP Coast in the 70s, we’d get “set up” running for the summer. That usually meant being assigned to an out of town extra board and working a variety of jobs that no one else would touch. We looked forward to being cut off in the fall and going back firing the commute runs for the winter. Regular hours, easier work, and better pay. We were lucky to have those jobs to fall back on.

Posted from iPhone



Date: 01/05/23 10:45
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: 4451Puff

ApproachCircuit Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ..... And there are
> even a few that don't enjoy their marriages
> anymore but keep working so their divorced
> wifes can't lay claim to half their earnings. I
> knew a few with this attitude!

I had a co-worker leave a decent paying tech job after about 6 months and go back to his old job of delivering pizzas. He told his ex when he landed the tech job "If you try to go for half, I'll go back to pizza delivery where half of my income is cash tips, and on paper it'll be 1/3 of what I currently make" She went for 50% of the tech money, he went back to slinging pies. 
Desmond Praetzel, "4451 Puff"



Date: 01/05/23 10:53
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: engineerinvirginia

The thing about staying marked up to deny your ex some retirement money....we had one guy who did that until he just couldn't stand to work anymore....we always tried to convince him that the money his ex would get did NOT come out of his pocket...but he didn't care. 



Date: 01/05/23 12:32
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: OHCR1551

A lot of people, mainly former wives who count on a husband's Social Security, are convinced they'll lose everything if the XH remarries and stays that way. It doesn't work like that. Let's say you were covered by Social Security and married and divorced three times. If you were married at least ten years to each ex, they all get the same amount if they file as a spouse, and it doesn't decrease--if the first gets $800 a month, they all do. 

(what DOES matter is whether you work long enough to be vested in a state or federal pension and then take an SS-covered job, even at a different time and a different industry. We're in that situation and the SS he worked under for 16 years should have amounted to something like $900, with me getting the reduced spouse benefit. Nope, since he worked his gummint job for 30 years, he only gets a third of the amount to prevent "double dipping." It was sold as "we don't want people paying into both systems at once," but the law is written to save SS money.)

Rebecca Morgan
Jacobsburg, OH



Date: 01/05/23 14:11
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: Trainhand

CPCoyote, we had the same thing in Savannah. In the summer you would get sent to outlying jobs in Waycross, Brunswick, and the north side of jacksonville. It also happened at Christmas. Then you would go back firing passenger or freight, and each year you would be an engineer a little bit longer. Finally the firing jobs went to Amtrack and the engineer jobs became permanent.

Sam 



Date: 01/10/23 16:22
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: 3rdswitch

In 1978, Santa Fe was very simple. Had to work on the ground one year before applying for engine service, then, when accepted, worked as fireman hostler for one year before entering thirteen week in the seat training, then six weeks of classes and simulator in Topeka, KS. Then, in my case, made a qualifying trip over Cajon Pass with road foreman of engines and marked up as an engineer. MY ground date 5-8-78, my fireman date 5-7-79, my engineer date 9-2-80. Never cut off in thirty one years. BNSF changed things a bit as after BNSF you could actually use your ground seniority and big back and forth from seat to ground. It was great.
JB



Date: 01/11/23 13:24
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: LocoPilot750

I was with Santa Fe too, out of Emporia, Newton was our division headquarters.  I hired out with three others the same day. The bottom two were assigned firing on Amtrak since it was a low paying job, and the firemen on both sides of that job had letters in to be released as soon as a younger man became available.  Me and the other guy both got put on vacant firings and worked the frt pool out of Emporia, which was great, that's where we lived. I think there were about 35 pool engineers, each with a vacant firing turn, but times were good, and there were only about half a dozen actual firemen, most of the turns were vacant. The four of us all got promoted about a year later. I went back to a vacant firing turn after a qualifying trip to Wellington, there were no engineer jobs I could hold. About a month later, the phone rings, and I got assigned as an engineer on the 302 switch job at Wichita. Three weeks later the regular guy came back off vaction and bumped me, and I went back firing.  I could put in a standing bid on any engineer job out there, but I coldn't hold it, so I spent most of the time firing. After that, as long as there were vacant firing turns in the pool, on the locals, or on the yard jobs, I could go to any of them I chose if I got bumped, if it was vacant. They only time anyone actually got laid off,  was when business was slow, they cut the pool, and engineers cut out, bumped back on the vacant fireman turns until every engineer had a fireman, even down to the yard jobs. After every engineer job had a fireman physically on the job, and there was nowhere left to bump to, the bottom guys with no place to go, went home. That happened to me in Feb of '82 for two weeks. When business came back, and the pools were regulated and called for an increased, those guys firing that had standing bids to go back running were put back running, and everybody moved up, and those cut-off got re-called, including me. I talked to an engineer working on another class 1, and it didn't work that way for him. He could'nt drop back firing unless there were no engineer jobs he could hold. He had to work an outside job switch engine 5 days a week, 100 miles from home, while a younger man was at home, firing in the pool, making his miles, and making almost twice as much money. We could fire by choice, at the risk of being force assigned to an undesireable job if we were the lowest man firing, there were no bids, and they needed somebody.



Date: 01/11/23 13:28
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: train1275

LocoPilot750 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> . I talked to an engineer
> working on another class 1, and it didn't work
> that way for him. He could'nt drop back firing
> unless there were no engineer jobs he could hold.
> He had to work an outside job switch engine 5 days
> a week, 100 miles from home, while a younger man
> was at home, firing in the pool, making his miles,
> and making almost twice as much money. We could
> fire by choice, at the risk of being force
> assigned to an undesireable job if we were the
> lowest man firing, there were no bids, and they
> needed somebody.

That is the seniority situation that I am familiar with on former Penn Central and EL lines back east.



Date: 01/11/23 19:28
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: Trainhand

That second bad way was how it worked for the SCL/ You would be in Jacksonville working the all nigt Busch switcher and the person behind you firing a passenger train making twice what you were. When the rr promotes you they cut your pay and send you away from home.

Sam



Date: 01/12/23 09:48
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: wabash2800

As they say, timing is everything.

A friend of mine (since passsed away) hired in as a brakeman in 1939 at the tail end of the Depression after a short stint as an extra crew caller.  He was promoted to conductor within a few years. Clarence wasn't drafted during WWII and worked many hours during that period. Consquently, he was never laid off in his entire career and retired from N&W in 1978. Of course, he came from a railroder family. His dad, an engineer, was laid off during the Depression, but the family made sure that Clarence graduated from high school.

I doubt if many of us have had the stars line up like that, no matter what industry we work in. Being a baby boomer and even college educated, many of my previous employers are long gone.

Victor Baird
 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/12/23 13:56 by wabash2800.



Date: 01/12/23 10:00
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: train1275

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As they say, timing is everything.
>
> A friend of mine (since passsed away) hired in as
> a brakeman in 1939 at the tail end of the
> Depression after a short stint as an extra crew
> caller.  He was promoted to conductor within a
> few years. Clarence wasn't drafted during WWII and
> worked many hours during that period. Consquently,
> he was never laid off once in his entire career
> and retired from N&W in 1978. Of course, he came
> from a railroder family. His dad, an engineer, was
> laid off during the Depression, but the family
> made sure that Clarence graduated from high
> school.
>
> I doubt if many of us have had the stars line up
> like that, no matter what industry we work in.
> Being a baby boomer and even college educated,
> many of my previous employers are long gone.
>
> Victor Baird

Clarence Montgomery ?
Your book, "Railroading on the Wabash Fourth District" is a classic !!
>  



Date: 01/12/23 10:44
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: wabash2800

Yes, Clarence Montgomery. Thanks for the compliments. As you know, other railroaders are in the book too.

Victor Baird



Date: 01/12/23 13:31
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: phlone

I too enjoyed your book very much.   I got interested in the 4th District when I came to South Shore Freight and we operate the piece of it from Dillon to Kingsbury. 



Date: 01/12/23 20:16
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: wabash2800

I recall when you bought a book from me.

I met a South Shore Freight Conductor up there before the book came out. Unfortunately, he never bought a copy of the book, though he was very interested in geting a copy. And to be honest, he acted as if he was mad at me. He would never answer my communication to him. I also ask a friend of his to find out what was going on but never heard anything. The only thing I can figure out is that there were a couple of photos I used in the book credited to my collection I purchased on eBay and they were his? Or did I get him in trouble when a friend and I took some photos of his train near Dillon?. (I know there were cameras on the locomotive.) I'd have to do some digging to find his name.

Victor Baird


phlone Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I too enjoyed your book very much.   I got
> interested in the 4th District when I came to
> South Shore Freight and we operate the piece of it
> from Dillon to Kingsbury. 



Date: 01/13/23 07:50
Re: Seniority in engine service
Author: engineerinvirginia

About not getting cut back to firing until there were NO engine jobs to claim anywhere...that is not uncommon...for it's the BLE now BLET rule that Locomotive Engineers must protect their seniority...on CSX we do have zones beyond which you cannot be forced....(except for engineers where there's a rule for filling vacancies first by pulling from the terminal where there is a need and then drawing from the nearest available terminal...and on and on) So it has been that on our end of the road engineer's on our roster have been allowed to cut back if they run out of jobs IN OUR ZONE...and on the other terminals they do the same. If things get badly unbalanced we have had our youngest forced to the other end of the road...and we have had to bring some of theirs up to our terminal too! But generally we do have the luxury of staying in our preferred terminal even if we must demote to do so. Nevermind flowback rules were you voluntary step down to train service....we have that too...but you still have to take calls to work an engine in emergencies...always protecting their enginer seniority. Also....about zone rules....while they cannot normally force us out of zone...if we want to keep working our craft and there is an out of zone job you can hold...you can voluntarily go to it...



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