Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

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MetraBNSF
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Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by MetraBNSF »

Several brief excerpts from the article below.

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/20 ... nCnDYwx9-M

Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a recent memo to employees that the discussions are part of ongoing negotiations with UP over a new purchase-of-service contract. The current contract expires Dec. 31.

“With this expiration, Union Pacific and Metra are exploring a change to future operations,” according to the memo, a copy of which was seen by Trains News Wire. “Concepts discussed include the potential transfer of mechanical, TE&Y [train, engine and yardman positions], clerk, ticket agent operations, and, possibly, some engineering work (i.e. station maintenance) to Metra.”

Derwinski acknowledges in the memo that there has been “talk going around of Metra taking over Union Pacific’s commuter operations.”

A Metra spokeswoman said the memo was necessary to “keep the rumor mill grounded in what was happening,” but that no other information was available due to the ongoing negotiations.

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doepack
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by doepack »

Discussing this with my local ticket agent as well as the handful of conductors I'm familiar with, it's clear to me that nobody seems to know for sure precisely how this is going to play out, and I sense much concern.

One possible outcome could be a situation where Metra takes over actual train operation with UP still owning ROW, as is the case on NCS & HC, where CN owns the railroad, and Metra takes care of everything else. If UP is going to sell any route to Metra, it would likely be either the north and/or northwest lines; pretty sure that the west line will remain under UP control. Not trying to start or add to any rumors, just my own guesswork here.

Stay tuned...
--Dorian--

eolesen
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by eolesen »

I can see a scenario where Metra has trackage rights, but I don't see UP parting with any ROW.

I also don't see where Metra can possibly match what UP offers in pay and benefits.

ExCon90
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by ExCon90 »

That second point looks like a reason for both UP and Metra to favor a change of operations from UP to Metra. A lot of problems surfaced in the Northeast when Conrail was relieved of providing service under contract and the commuter agencies offered less favorable conditions to employees who remained in passenger service--Philadelphia had a SEPTA strike at the beginning of 1983 that lasted for months.

eolesen
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by eolesen »

None of the crew members I know in the Chicago SU would take a cut in order to remain in passenger service. Maybe those employees would be grandfathered and seconded from UP to Metra, and replaced one by one as they retire or move back to freight. Either way, I don't see where a knife edge approach could be used without causing some serious disruption.

I also don't see how you could give up the UPNW and UPN to Metra operations but not the UPW, especially while there are still freight operations on all three lines.

Anthony
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by Anthony »

eolesen wrote:
Wed Dec 11, 2019 3:10 am
None of the crew members I know in the Chicago SU would take a cut in order to remain in passenger service. Maybe those employees would be grandfathered and seconded from UP to Metra, and replaced one by one as they retire or move back to freight. Either way, I don't see where a knife edge approach could be used without causing some serious disruption.

I also don't see how you could give up the UPNW and UPN to Metra operations but not the UPW, especially while there are still freight operations on all three lines.
Actually, the UP-N Line between Lake Bluff and Clybourn has only seen Metra trains since the late 1980's. Even north of Lake Bluff, freight traffic is minimal - most UP freight traffic uses the parallel Milwaukee Sub.

ryanch
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by ryanch »

It's hiring and firing that I'm worried about. We know politics infiltrated Metra HR to a vast extent. To what degree is that true at UP? Have they been subject to the kind of pressure ComEd was, to hire political hangers-on? I might think that UP can resist such pressure in a way Metra itself can't.

CHTT1
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by CHTT1 »

So. you're telling me the UP has never hired relatives of UP execs or other UP employees? Nepotism is pretty common on railroads.

eolesen
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by eolesen »

Nepotism is manageable.

Political patronage? That's another beast altogether, and it's historically been a rampant problem in any agency based in C(r)ook County...

CHTT1
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by CHTT1 »

Isn't basically the same problem? Hiring incompetent people over competent people because somebody higher up needs to do a favor for somebody? Are the crews on Metra Electric, Rock Island, Milwaukee, Heritage Corridor and North Central Service incompetent because they're Metra employees? What makes the UP and BNSF employees better?

ExCon90
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by ExCon90 »

I don't think political appointees, particularly if in need of a place of refuge or a port in a storm, aspire to positions requiring actual work, such as in Train and Engine service, preferring make-work desk jobs at headquarters with loosely defined responsibilities and vague performance standards--see various posts on here about political appointees on New Jersey Transit and the Long Island. There's something to be said for nepotism on railroads, where a new hire whose father and uncles work on the railroad comes onto the job knowing things that would have to be explained to someone coming in off the street, and if Joe's nephew isn't cutting the mustard the word will get back to Joe--there's a strong sense of not sullying the family's reputation on the railroad. The problem to be anticipated with political appointees is the creation of a Coordinator of Somethingorother micromanaging things he knows nothing about.

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doepack
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by doepack »

ExCon90 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 2:37 pm
There's something to be said for nepotism on railroads, where a new hire whose father and uncles work on the railroad comes onto the job knowing things that would have to be explained to someone coming in off the street, and if Joe's nephew isn't cutting the mustard the word will get back to Joe--there's a strong sense of not sullying the family's reputation on the railroad. The problem to be anticipated with political appointees is the creation of a Coordinator of Somethingorother micromanaging things he knows nothing about.
Agreed. Quite often, some of the decisions made by mid level and senior management positions at railroads that are filled politically can have damaging and lasting effects on morale and company reputation.

But whether Metra takes over some or all of the duties, service on all three lines should remain the same and I expect most of the changes, if any, to be transparent. The ongoing reaction of the employees (at least the few I'm familiar with) will be worth watching...
--Dorian--

eolesen
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by eolesen »

CHTT1 wrote:
Fri Dec 13, 2019 11:12 am
Isn't basically the same problem? Hiring incompetent people over competent people because somebody higher up needs to do a favor for somebody? Are the crews on Metra Electric, Rock Island, Milwaukee, Heritage Corridor and North Central Service incompetent because they're Metra employees? What makes the UP and BNSF employees better?
Arguably, yes, you have higher quality employees in the POS lines.

Commuter service is fairly senior for UP, so you've got guys who cut their teeth in freight service and have far more experience doing the operating portions of the job before carrying their first passenger.

Likewise, the commuter guys on UP and presumably BNSF still have to pass all the hazmat training that the freight crews do. I doubt that the Metra crews are tested on hazmats..... and if they are, it's not going to be from any basis of experience from actually doing the paperwork as a conductor.

Engineer Spike
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by Engineer Spike »

I don’t know much about how the seniority works on the UP side, but am pretty familiar with the BNSF, having started my career with them in Aurora. First, the statement about being cross qualified in freight and passenger service is true. Some guys stay in one service or the other, while others float back and forth. They all have to take the same exams. There are some holdups to making the transfer. A guy in passenger for several years may have not been past Elburn for several years. He might need to qualify on everything west of there. He might also need to take qualifying trips to BRC, IHB, NS, CN, CSX... Some may like passenger, and not want to transfer. The decision may be based on whether the UP/C&NW guys end up dovetailed into the Metra roster, or get put to the bottom, possibly with prior rights to their former work. As far as the difference between UP pay rates and Metra, there might be a guarantee of pay. Former passenger guys who aren’t taken by Metra may get a guarantee to make at least what they did before. The same would likely happen to guys who elect to go to Metra. Usually the guarantee lasts for about six years.

MetraBNSF
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Re: Metra and UP POS Agreement Changes

Post by MetraBNSF »

Article requires subscription. Some excerpts below.

https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg-hi ... ring-court

December 20, 2019 5:04 PM

Attention, Metra riders: UP, commuter rail service are squaring off in court
Union Pacific wants Metra to take over direct operation of lines that carry 100,000 riders a day.

A contract dispute between Metra and its largest service provider has landed in federal court here, creating uncertainty over who will operate train lines that serve more than 100,000 passengers a day.

The legal battle pits Metra against the Union Pacific Railroad, which Metra currently pays about $100 million a year to operate the UP North (Kenosha), Northwest (Harvard and McHenry) and West (Elburn) lines.

Neither side is providing full details on the essence the dispute. What’s known for sure is the UP’s current contract with Metra is due to expire on Feb. 29, that negotiations have not resulted in a new deal, and that UP filed suit earlier this week in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

In a statement, UP makes it clear it wants out of that deal so that it can concentrate on its freight business.

“We are negotiating a new agreement that gives Metra direct responsibility for operating its commuter lines through a services transfer,” the company said in a statement. “This will allow Union Pacific to focus on moving customers' goods in and out of Chicago and across the nation.

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