• paid sick days

  • Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.
Discussion of the operations of CSX Transportation, from 1980 to the present. Official site can be found here: CSXT.COM.

Moderator: MBTA F40PH-2C 1050

  by Engineer Spike
This is just window-dressing for a bigger issue. First, the lack of paid sick days is a norm for the industry. Who knows why it's that way. Presumably the unions have focused on larger pay raises than on sick days. In the end it sort of washes out. The unions and the company take the total pay package budget and divide it amongst the number of employees. In the end the pay and benefits all add up to the same number. For example, if the target pay package is $150,000, it doesn't really matter if you have $120,000 in wages and $30,000 in benefits, or $100,000 in wages and $50,000 in benefits. Such has been played around with, for example on the amount of copay in insurance benefits.

The real issue is about time off in general. Since PSR has been implemented, the railroads have had the desire to reduce the workforce. This requires a worker to cover longer shifts. In transportation, the crews are bound to a maximum amount of time on duty. In the past a worker could mark off pretty much at will. There were enough spare engineers, brakeman, dispatchers, and signal maintainers to cover if someone wanted unpaid time off. With the desire for less employees, the number of spare employees has been cut. The trains still need to be covered. The result has been the adaptation of more stringent attendance policies. These policies have had the result of employees not being able to take needed time off. As mentioned, we have daily, weekly, and monthly hours caps. There are some loopholes in this. A train crew can only work 5 continuous days. If a sixth is worked, then 48 hours of undisturbed rest is required. If a crew leaves the home terminal on the sixth day, but returns on the seventh, then 72 hours rest is required. If a deadhead is in the string of days, then it breaks the number of continuous days. For example, I might have been at work for 9 straight days, but since my 5th. day was a deadhead, it doesn't count. They also sometimes delay a train until 24 hours from the crew's last duty. This way the continuous days are broken.

Let me tell you that after 9 straight days, one needs time off. besides just being burnt out, one still has other needs, such as time with family, paying bills, and household chores. This says nothing about being able to have a set day to attend appointments with doctors. I've had a broken dishwasher which I couldn't fix myself. My wife wanted me there to talk with the repairman. It had to wait for six months so that I could attend to it during my vacation.
  by JBlaisdell
Lack of coverage is the employer's problem, not the employees'. This is one place the unions need to step up.
  by Engineer Spike
Even with every existing employee being used just about every available amount of time, they’re still short. Any problem when a train crew fails to make it in, the whole railroad falls on its ass. Especially with the shortages and the STB hearings last fall, the railroads have stepped up hiring. They however keep shooting themselves in the foot on purpose. Of the dozens of of new employees, few stay. Some get a taste of the 24/7 schedule, then pull the pin. In my area there’s a plethora of good jobs. If too many stay, then the company either cuts the boards. Another tactic is to have managers harass the employees. Maybe they’ll write the employee up for something trivial like forgetting to say “over” at the end of a radio transmission. After a few the guy is labeled as a lackluster employee, then terminated. He can appeal, but that takes a few years before the case is heard. That’s why I tell the people in the Employment Forum to be sure to have a B plan. I also tell them to not get into debt after the first big paycheck. This way they can walk away if necessary.

I don’t know what the long term plan is. Maybe railroads are keeping employment low because they plan to automate. Maybe they will just have a guy in the engine just to push the big red button in an emergency. They will stop and get him a Happy Meal on the way to the train. Either way they will have less labor protection to pay. On the other hand, in light of new legislation based on the rash of accidents, they may be forced to keep present crew sizes. If they do, things will have to change. In many places railroad pay scales exceed the prevailing wage. As mentioned, where I am, this is not the case. Maybe changing from the train staffing procedures of the last 180 or so years has finally gotten to the point of needing a revamping.