As Vile As It Gets!!!

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As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:22 pm

I learned of this incident reviewing another site. The reporting seems objective, but not without error (Empire Builder does not originate in Washington DC). That it is carried in a "small market", Amtrak’s PR Department worked to keep the story away from the "top 25":

Great Falls Tribune (Staff Reporting)

Fair Use:

A North Carolina woman is suing Amtrak after she was violently raped on the passenger train by an employee as it passed by Wolf Point in 2015, alleging the carrier had the responsibility to protect her from employees such as her assailant, who had a long and "egregious disciplinary record."

The woman, 68 years old at the time, was taking a "bucket list" cross-country trip with her two sisters in 2015, and in April that year boarded the Empire Builder train in Washington, D.C. headed west. The woman had only been to five states before the trip, according to court documents filed earlier this month.


This incident will cost Amtrak "heap big" - and it should!

By now, Amtrak knows, or at least should, that they must be extra vigilant in the hiring process, and that the background check complete before one is ever hired - especially for public contact work. Even the Union, the ASWC, had to know this guy was "trouble", but they knew that if they did not defend him through all levels of the discipline and appeals process under the Railway Labor Act, he would turn around and seek damages under the "failure to represent" provisions of the Landrum-Griffin Act.

But the real losers - the vast majority of Amtrak employees who do their jobs courteously and efficiently - and all the time putting up with "crap" too voluminous to discuss here.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby rohr turbo » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:13 pm

IMO Amtrak should not have to pay major settlement $$.

Amtrak fired the guy (more than once). The Union and ridiculous labor laws forced his reinstatement. At that point, the Union should bear responsibility for this crimminal's conduct.

The sooner the Unions die off, the sooner we will get better, safer, more efficient service.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Tadman » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:39 am

Without opining on any of the merits of the situation here, I would like to note that sometimes the defendant will write a big settlement check just to make something go away. A part of the settlement agreement will read that (a) this is confidential; (b) the defendant and plaintiff agree that nobody is admitting to any wrongdoing, in case of any further action by other plaintiffs or same plaintiff on different grounds.

A prior employer of mine was once in a lawsuit and we paid the price of a new mid-size car to settle, because the cost to defend was going to be into the millions. We requested the same agreement, and they accepted, because we all knew it was a fishing expedition.

Per the above post by Rohr, whether you believe Amtrak has any moral or legal responsibility, they may make a generous settlement offer without even going to trial because this is really bad press. They may request that the plaintiff includes a clause stating that Amtrak was not admitting wrongdoing.

I'd also like to disclaim any knowledge of the case at hand and state that I'm not taking any position, just trying to explain the mechanics of the legal system as it may apply.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Wayside » Tue Nov 28, 2017 1:07 pm

rohr turbo wrote:The sooner the Unions die off, the sooner we will get better, safer, more efficient service.


Labor unions and labor laws hold employers accountable for proper documentation and due process in a dismissal for cause situation. If an employer does it the right way, the dismissal for cause will be permanent, assuming that is the desired end state. Not knowing any of the details of the case in question, however, I cannot comment on the particular situation.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Railjunkie » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:13 pm

rohr turbo wrote:IMO Amtrak should not have to pay major settlement $$.

Amtrak fired the guy (more than once). The Union and ridiculous labor laws forced his reinstatement. At that point, the Union should bear responsibility for this crimminal's conduct.

The sooner the Unions die off, the sooner we will get better, safer, more efficient service.


Before making a * statement like that do a little research on what unions have done for the betterment of the regular working class.

Guess you want minimum wage behind the throttle of Amtrak. Remember the crews are paid for how they respond and the amount of knowledge they have to keep straight while preforming service.

I know nothing about this case but I agree with Wayside there is a process for dismissal rules must be followed or unfortunately things like this can happen.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby rohr turbo » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:53 pm

Railjunkie wrote:
Before making a * statement like that do a little research on what unions have done for the betterment of the regular working class.

Guess you want minimum wage behind the throttle of Amtrak. Remember the crews are paid for how they respond and the amount of knowledge they have to keep straight while preforming service.

I know nothing about this case but I agree with Wayside there is a process for dismissal rules must be followed or unfortunately things like this can happen.


I absolutely acknowledge that in the late 19th/early 20th century unions were a very positive force for workplace safety and fairness.

But we live in a different world today: no longer the era of Triangle Shirtwaist horrors; now even a quasi-governmental employer cannot dismiss an employee with rapist tendencies.

Amtrak is not an amateur mom-and-pop employer -- with 20K employees and 45 year history, it is unlikely they are arbitrarily dismissing employees without cause.

As for minimum wage employees at the throttle...actually I think we are very close to the day of self-driving locomotives. And I welcome it! (Unions undoubtedly will fight it.) Computers don't fall asleep at the controls (Spuyten Duyvil), text and give joyrides (Chatsworth), or lose track of their location (Phila.).

Perhaps my initial comments were strong. But the world is changing and employers, employees, unions, customers all need to adapt and embrace better solutions.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby ryanov » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:23 am

Not strong so much as ingnorant. Nothing much has changed in the relationship between employer and union. This is not a “different world” and workplaces are still dangerous today. The employer still has all of the money.

Unions need to defend, just like defense attorneys do. It’s how the process works. If Amtrak can’t succesfully fire a rapist, that’s on them.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby rohr turbo » Thu Nov 30, 2017 1:17 am

I mean no disrespect, but consider:

ryanov wrote: This is not a “different world” and workplaces are still dangerous today. .


Look around you and recognize that it IS a different world from 100 years ago. Dangerous workplace? Yes, for the rape victim. For competent employees, not so bad.

ryanov wrote: If Amtrak can’t succesfully fire a rapist, that’s on them.


Others would say that if Amtrak (semi-governmental, with strong legal team) cannot fire a Union-represented rapist, then maybe the system is broken.

Further, look at all the non-union industries today. Generally well-paid, safe, comfortable (and the bad apples can be removed.)
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby quad50cal » Thu Nov 30, 2017 7:31 am

For all of those blaming the union, there is another angle to the story. The former Amtrak employee in question was a minority and 59 years old - old enough to be protected by age discrimination law. Since he was fully comfortable saying "I have no trouble strangling a white woman." at the workplace, I think he was fully aware of how touchy it was for him to be immediately dismissed without recourse

rohr turbo wrote:Further, look at all the non-union industries today. Generally well-paid, safe, comfortable (and the bad apples can be removed.)

Get some perspective. You might be well paid, safe and comfortable hopping from fly by night startup to fly by night startup in the Bay Area, but that certainly doesn't match the experience of Amazon warehouse workers and Uber drivers. Even in your own white collar trade, there is widespread employee abuse in certain niches ( video game software developers come to mind).

rohr turbo wrote:Computers don't fall asleep at the controls (Spuyten Duyvil), text and give joyrides (Chatsworth), or lose track of their location (Phila.).

Computers are only as good as their programmers. Even with the most skilled developers, no non-trivial software is defect free. Computers may not fall asleep at the wheel, but they have caused crippling infrastructure damage (Northeast blackout of 2003), economic chaos ( automated algorithmic trading before stock exchanges placed market controls to limit their potential damage) and blithely endanger humans if a software flaw turns out to be dangerous (Therac-25).

rohr turbo wrote:But the world is changing and employers, employees, unions, customers all need to adapt and embrace better solutions.

The world would be better off without Silicon Valley style worshiping at the altar of "disruption" and the "gig economy"
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:28 am

rohr turbo wrote:The sooner the Unions die off, the sooner we will get better, safer, more efficient service.


Mr. Rohr, I fear your prophesy is on its way to the truth. The last holdouts of organized labor I think will be transportation and goverments. All too much of manufacturing is being subject to union busting. While the foreign auto manufacturers have not had to confront the "union devil" by locating their plants in regions traditional to anti-union sentiments (under the guise of "Right to Work" laws), the Big Three can be expected to agitate "de-cert" (kick the union out) initiatives in plants located in those regions. We have seen Boeing use this tactic, i.e. Charleston SC v. Seattle.

But if there is any foundation to this report a few years ago from The New York Times, there could be an initiative for "white collar" workers to unionize:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/tech ... place.html

Fair Use:

.SEATTLE — On Monday mornings, fresh recruits line up for an orientation intended to catapult them into Amazon’s singular way of working.

They are told to forget the “poor habits” they learned at previous jobs, one employee recalled. When they “hit the wall” from the unrelenting pace, there is only one solution: “Climb the wall,” others reported. To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards. When quizzed days later, those with perfect scores earn a virtual award proclaiming, “I’m Peculiar” — the company’s proud phrase for overturning workplace conventions.

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)
..
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Matt Johnson » Thu Nov 30, 2017 11:15 am

Are unions often corrupt? Probably. Was the union a factor in enabling this awful crime to occur? I don't think we can say. But to say that unions are obsolete at a time when the working class in this country is losing ground quickly and employers are increasingly pushing employees to the breaking point is a hard position to defend imo.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Ridgefielder » Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:14 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:But if there is any foundation to this report a few years ago from The New York Times, there could be an initiative for "white collar" workers to unionize:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/tech ... place.html

Fair Use:

.SEATTLE — On Monday mornings, fresh recruits line up for an orientation intended to catapult them into Amazon’s singular way of working.

They are told to forget the “poor habits” they learned at previous jobs, one employee recalled. When they “hit the wall” from the unrelenting pace, there is only one solution: “Climb the wall,” others reported. To be the best Amazonians they can be, they should be guided by the leadership principles, 14 rules inscribed on handy laminated cards. When quizzed days later, those with perfect scores earn a virtual award proclaiming, “I’m Peculiar” — the company’s proud phrase for overturning workplace conventions.

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)
..

White collar unions are common elsewhere in the world. In France and Italy, for instance, bankers (yes, BANKERS not BAKERS) are union members.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby gprimr1 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 3:12 pm

The world is like a pendulum.

In the early 1900s, employers had all the power and did horribly unsafe things that resulted in horrible things like Triangle Shirtwaist, and the Radium Girls of United Radium. Workers unionized, and ended unsafe practices, but then the pendulum swung too far, and unions began gaining too much power, just as employers previously had.

Unions should protect good employees from being fired by bad managers, and ensure that due process is followed when firing bad employees, but it seems too often we hear about employees who have problematic records protected by unions. That's def not going to win any brownie points for unions.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Greg Moore » Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:24 pm

Are we getting way off-topic here?

I think the real issue here isn't unions, it's what this personal allegedly did.
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Re: As Vile As It Gets!!!

Postby Backshophoss » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:53 pm

NO matter on how extensive the hiring process is,some bad apples get thru,this is a case where the process "glitched" and that
"person" got thru,and now can "claim" minority status to keep employed,best we can hope for that that person is in a position that has
little customer contact as possible,no longer allowed to be on OBS crew.
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