Is It Really That Bad?

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Is It Really That Bad?

Postby johnnyrr » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:37 pm

I am curious, Is it really that bad? As I sit & wait for the final word from Union Pacific to see if I have landed the job for the Diesel Engine Electrician position, I have been reading hundreds of employee & former employee reviews on glassdoor.com for all the "Big Boy" rail road companies. It seems like almost everyone is either in fear of losing their job by being fired, and or has an extreme belief & disregard for management. I mean, I have read so many reviews that it is almost questionable if it is actually worth it to take the job if I get my start date. I would like to hear from you guys/gals that are already on board, and tell me what you think, and how you like it? Thanks!
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Re: Is It Really That Bad?

Postby Gadfly » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:11 pm

johnnyrr wrote:I am curious, Is it really that bad? As I sit & wait for the final word from Union Pacific to see if I have landed the job for the Diesel Engine Electrician position, I have been reading hundreds of employee & former employee reviews on glassdoor.com for all the "Big Boy" rail road companies. It seems like almost everyone is either in fear of losing their job by being fired, and or has an extreme belief & disregard for management. I mean, I have read so many reviews that it is almost questionable if it is actually worth it to take the job if I get my start date. I would like to hear from you guys/gals that are already on board, and tell me what you think, and how you like it? Thanks!


I wouldn't let that deter me! Much of it IS part of the railroad culture, and its been that way since Heaven knows when. Much of it came just after the Civil War when the railroads hired many army, both enlisted and officers. These men brought their regimented military ways and methods with them. Yes, there IS oftentimes a sense of insecurity, and it comes from several avenues. Part is from the seniority system itself where one necessarily, and rightly, starts at the bottom and may progress thru the agreement positions as he gains seniority. At first, he may be subjected to layoffs due to work slowdowns. Then the company may find it necessary to abolish certain jobs as demands change. Each time that happens, lower seniority personnel can be "bumped", or "rolled" off his job. He then rolls the next lower employee to obtain what is next available. If there IS no available position for him to displace (roll) then he goes on furlough list where he may be called "off list" to fill jobs when the extra board is exhausted. Prob'ly he will be recalled when business gets better.

I would be kidding you if I said this is easy and don't worry about it, because it IS part of the railroad life. And, so, there IS an atmosphere of uncertainty that exists, and it cannot be predicted. On the upside, it usually DOES get better and better as time goes by and you earn more "whiskers" (seniority).
More good news is, non-Transportation jobs such as shops don't experience nearly as much flux as the operating departments do. Who can really say? No One!

I started, myself, as an Extra Laborer in a Track Material Yard, filling in on vacations and medical leaves. I had NO guarantee of anything. I could have quit my old job (which I HATED), gone to work at Southern RR, and found myself sitting on my butt with NO job at all IF it all went wrong. Turns out, especially in the summer, I worked JUST as much as if I had been on a bid-in position. I TOOK what seemed a big gamble and went for it with both feet. From a traveling office job (exterminator) to a grimy, greasy, filthy laborer's job. And you know what? it was the best gamble I ever took! :-D I went from laborer to full-time laborer, to Extra Bill Clerk, to Extra Board Yard Clerk, then Agent/Operator, handling trains and signals, ultimately retiring as an Inventory Clerk at NS's Roadway Shops (Maintenance of Way Dept).

Was it ROUGH? At times, YES! Did I cuss the railroad and wish I was away from it? Y E S! Did I LOVE the work, tho grueling it could be? YES! Would I trade it for the world? NO!! And every month, a check arrives that says, "Railroad Retirement Board".

NO ONE can tell you how it will work out for you. If you WANT it, TAKE it! I have a feeling it will be hard work, some lay offs, some set backs. You will sometimes cuss at Union Pacific just like I did NS. But when its over 30 years from now, I have a feeling you'l be very glad, and PROUD, of your railroad service!

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retired, Norfolk Southern RR
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Re: Is It Really That Bad?

Postby johnnyrr » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:18 pm

Thanks Gadfly! This position would start my 2nd career. I am no spring chicken anymore, I had a 27 year career in commercial & industrial HVAC, and ran my own one man band contracting business for 10 years before I suffered a life changing accident. I am excited to enter the work force again and be part of a crew that gets things done. I guess all the negativity I have been reading about had me a little concerned. None the less, I am a risk taker, and I know more than most that there is no reward without risk. Anyways, thanks again for the info.
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Re: Is It Really That Bad?

Postby Wayside » Fri Sep 01, 2017 8:59 am

Don't pay attention to the gripers and complainers. UP is a good place to work.
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Re: Is It Really That Bad?

Postby Gadfly » Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:41 am

Wayside wrote:Don't pay attention to the gripers and complainers. UP is a good place to work.


And despite the gripes, ultimately, the railroad IS a good place to work. I can't speak for UP because I worked for SR/Norfolk Southern. There are complaints stemming from management's handling of employees, and a sometimes atmosphere of fear/intimidation. The rest of the complaints seem to come from those who work HARDER to get OUT of working than they would've if they'd just gone ahead and done the job! These are the ones who are always speaking ill of the company, and you'll find 'em getting much of the disciplinary time, too!

The adage applies that one should DO your job the best he can. While in the Transportation Department, I never got ONE run-off over an error or a rule violation. I came close, tho, when I billed a car off-line via the wrong route. Turns out it was a mistake by the computer program itself! :P The system at the time "matched" route & destination automatically. If you billed a car wrong, when you hit "SEND", it would send the cursor "flying" down the page highlighting all the errors in red. This forced the bill clerk to stop and see what the error was. Well, I was called off the "board to protect the Bill Clerk job on Saturday. I was the only Freight house clerk there that day. I was billing pigs for the afternoon hotshots just as fast as I could to keep from delaying the trains. We had come to depend on the the TIPS (Terminal Infomation Processing System) to correct typo and other bill errors; it DID cut down on a lot of mistakes. OTH, we didn't spend time looking over waybills to fix mistakes: we didn't have time.



SO here I was that Saturday typing just as fast I could. Printer was going "BZZZZZZZZZZZT-BZZZT-BZZZZZZZT-BZZT-BZZZZZZZT".

The hotshots came and went, and I went home tired to await another call off the Extra Board. About a week-week 'n a half later-I came in to protect a 1st trick Yard Clerk job. The Terminal Agent called me into his office and closed the door.

"Mr. J, take a look at this waybill on the desk and tell me what's wrong with it, he said kinda stern-like.

Now I recognized it as one of those bills from the pig train sessions, but, Gosh, I couldn't be expected to remember a specific one from near two weeks ago!
I could see a thing the matter with it. My stars! I must've billed 100 cars that day! :(

As I stared at it, he broke in saying, "Mr J, you billed this car offline to Huntington, IL It should've gone to Huntington, INDIANA (IN). It cost us $1600 to get that car back".

I knew then he aimed to give me time off.

"But Mr. McKenna, isn't the computer supposed to FLAG errors like that and not let them go thru?"

It was almost like I had slapped him out of a daze! :-D His stern face instantly changed.

"ER, UH, AHEM (cough), sputter"! :-D He sat up and, recovering his composure< said, "AH, YEAH, Jerry (now he was all friendly-like)----I wanted to ask YOU how the computer DID that!" We, uh er.....seem to have a problem with the computer! (AS if *I* somehow knew about the problem and how to correct it) :P

He dismissed me, I went to work as Yard Clerk. Never heard another word about it! LMAO!!!!!!!!!!

Such is life on the railroad!

GF
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Re: Is It Really That Bad?

Postby johnnyrr » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:55 pm

Thanks Guys! I finally got my start date with UP. The big hang-up was the Medical Dept. They wanted every last report on my current surgery, and were requesting reports that didn't even exist. What a pain in the ass! I interviewed back in July. I thought this was never going to happen, so I kept applying at different RR companies, and now have more opportunities for employment in other places I would rather live & work. Decisions, Decisions!
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