• A question for the really old, "old heads."

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by jg greenwood
In the mid to late 1960's some railroads had what was called shine-boards. These were extra boards that required one to show-up, shine, for each shift. You came dressed and ready for work, if your seniority didn't allow you to work, you returned home and repeated the process the following shift. Two of the railroads in the St. Louis area that had these shine-boards were the T.R.R.A ( Terminal Railroad Association) and the late, great GM&O. Any other roads out there that had this type of extra-board? In some respects, the good ole days weren't really that good!

  by Avro Arrow
That sounds awful

  by AmtrakFan
Sounds like no fun.

  by SnoozerZ49
Hey JG,
The old heads I work with say the old Boston & Maine was like that. Every day the board reset by seniority. The senior man got out each time. Rather than continue to work the way down the board, each day they would restart with the senior rested man. You could end up on the bottom of the board and never make it out ,

Right, so much for the "good old days"

  by mmi16
Never heard of anything like that on the B&O.

  by BR&P
In his book "Brownie The Boomer", Charles P. Brown tells of working the SP about 1913 out of San Francisco down to San Luis Obispo. He marked up on the brakeman's extra board second out, but the next morning he found he was 5 times out. They explained this was called the "strict seniority system" whereby if a senior man's rest was up, he went ahead of any men with lessor seniority on the board.

Brown was so disgusted he quit on the spot!

  by jg greenwood
These seniority boards existed as late as the early 80s. I worked for the Chicago and NorthWestern in Madison, IL. from 1980-84. The seniority board was very much alive and well at that time. Actually, my original post referred to a combination shine/seniority board. Not only were the vacancies filled according to seniority, one was required to actually be present for all three shifts. A double whammy so to speak.
  by Engineer Spike
I started out on BNSF's ex Q territory, and we were still under Q contracts, as amended. Cicero and Galesburg had daily marks. Every day the caller would call all switchmen in the yard in seniority order. The top guy could choose any job the next day. The second guy could choose any job but the one the senior guy had taken, and so on. Guys who couldn't hold a job were extra board, which was also called in seniority order. Most had a standing bid sheet. It was easy to pick because everyone knew what he could reasonably hold.
  by Desertdweller
When I called crews on the Milwaukee Road in the 1970's, we had assigned jobs (yard jobs and locals) that were bid on seniority. Road jobs were called on pools operating between specific terminals. We also had an extra board that was controlled strictly by seniority. However, no one had to show up for the extra board unless they were actually called to work.

I worked under an old-time yardmaster (he was probably younger than I am now) who told me he was once 38 times out on an extra board, so he went fishing. Darned if he didn't miss a call! You see, anyone senior on the extra board could refuse a call as long as there was someone below them on the roster who could be called. If everyone senior to the last man on the board turned down a job, and the most junior man could not cover the job (missing, sick, drunk), then the jobs would be forced on the next person above him (who had already turned down the call). In other words, once the jobs had been turned down in seniority order, they were forced in reverse seniority order.

I once had this work to my advantage. In 1973, I had very little seniority, but more than employees who gave up their seniority to return to college. I had been bidding on positions but did not have the seniority to be awarded one. Finally, a job came open that I did not bid on, not because I didn't want it, but because I was too discouraged to bid on it. As the bottom person on the seniority roster, I was forced on it. And it turned out to be a pretty good job!