February, 2004




UP's Proposed "Business "Paint Scheme


Intelligence Report

It is deeply frustrating that there exists no way to make contact with the spiritual world. Because if there were, I would think an interview with one Edward Henry Harriman regarding the topic captioned below would provide us with enough words of outrage to make his feeling known.  Somehow I don't think he had the creation of an executive hog trough uppermost in mind when he created the UP's transportation powerhouse out of the linear junkyard that existed before he took office.  We may only despair. Harriman would be appalled.
to wit:

NEW YORK -- Although top executives are no longer allowed to borrow money from their employers under a new U.S. law, few have made any effort to pay down old loans made before the law took effect, a study released on Friday showed.   Union Pacific Corp., the No. 1 U.S. rail group, tops the list of companies with outstanding debts, with Chief Executive Officer Richard Davidson still indebted to his company for $10.97 million, the Corporate Library report said. A company representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

                                                                                                                       Randolph Field

  Quote of the Month

"Instead of getting married again, I'm just going to find a woman I don't like and give her a        house."                                                                                                                    Rod Stewart

Labor Notes

By now, we all should have heard how UTU went heads up with BLE on the Canadian Pacific and lost by a couple hundred votes. I wont even get into how many ballots were not returned, as that is an entirely different article on apathy.  We could try to analyze how UTU, with the majority of members, could lose such an election, but one would always come with the same conclusion, the same bumbling UTU idiot(s) that dropped the ball with the Tex-Mex debacle, once again fumbled with the Canadian Pacific BLE vs. UTU certification. How many properties will UTU lose before UTU-Cleveland understands that their (Cleveland International) goals are much different than the members expectations?                            

Instead, let's discuss the problem and focus on resolutions.

The problem is that both times UTU actually had a certification vote head-on with the BLE, UTU managed to shoot themselves in the foot.  UTU brought in outsiders (Special Reps) who tried to convince the home boys that UTU is better.   All the Special Reps, naturally, reported back to Cleveland with “good” news. The BLE, however, stuck with the mantra that UTU is on the attack and we (the home boys) all need to defend ourselves against The UTU Enterprise.” Which brings up the second problem:  Having a President under indictment while all the subordinates shout innocent until proven guilty” just makes everyone roll their eyes.  Even your police department will put an accused police officer on paid leave of absence while the judicial system sorts out the facts. Why did not the President voluntarily, or the Board of Directors direct, a paid leave of absence and step up the successor to run the day-to-day business? Is this machine for the members or self-perpetuating?   What’s the solution for UTU? I can see only four options.

1) Continue in “attack” mode. UTU can risk losing more members in their all out effort to consolidate rail members. The end result of this is some properties will be all BLE and others will be all UTU. This is not consolidation.

2) Circle the wagons. Try to hang on with what they have.   Focus on giving service to the members rather than forcing a winner-take-all against BLE. The end result is also no solution as now the BLE&T is on the offensive.

3) Fold. Close shop. Go home. Surrender to the BLE. This has some merit. Once all UTU members are within the BLE, a convention could turn the consolidated organization on its head as sheer numbers of former UTU members would change the course of the BLE.

4) Run, don’t walk, to the AFL-CIO. Pay the fines. Get back under the protective umbrella to prevent the BLE from raiding the UTU. This will effectively check any BLE&T effort to grab UTU members.

This writers suggestion is option 4. In the long run, under option 4, and with a change in UTU leadership, UTU could still seek a peaceful merger with the BLE. That is, a merger that does not benefit the sitting International or ID Officers, but a merger that benefits the members. Option 4 is the only road that UTU and BLE can travel in which a balanced, fair merger will result.

Which brings up some final thoughts on the Teamsters.  If IBT can truly benefit the membership, then we should stay under that umbrella. If it does not work out, we (the consolidated BLE/UTU organization) can always do what the Northwest Flight Attendants did and bolt from the IBT and form a new union. That would achieve what the officers of both BLE and UTU tried to obtain in the first place: A unified organization of rail employees.

Finally, and on a more personal note, this writer has expressed verbally on numerous occasions that the individual member must decide for himself or herself, which is the best organization to belong to.  And how does one determine which is best for you? It is not in Cleveland , my friend. Although there are some distinguished folks there on both sides, they are few and far between. Experience has shown us that. You must determine who can process your grievance. You should never be in an organization that can't handle your claim or represent you, no matter how cheap the dues. You should always look to the Local Chairman, the General Chairman, the local Legislative Representative, and the State Legislative Director in order to make your decision. It's not about dues, dummy. It's about service.  Getting good service from your local and general reps, and from your local and state legislative department is what it's about.

                                                                                                         Grumpy Old Switchman

We Get Letters

Dear Reptile,

I gotta question:  How come the UP managers gotta hide everything from their bosses?  I mean, like last month down in Fresno , when they found out that the Super and a couple of his goons were coming for a visit they stashed the death-trap carry-all they make us ride in.  It stays out of the way until the drones leave, then it's back in service.  Am I missing something?  It isn't safe enough to let the big shots even see it, but it's OK for us to ride in?


Dear Puzzled,

Obviously, you don't see the big picture.  UP's idea of safety is that which is "cost neutral", their term for "not with my budget you don't!"  If the Shoe doesn't see the van, the manager doesn't have to replace it out of his budget and at the same time he protects the service unit budget from a big hit, too.  That way the UP saves a ton of cash so they can pay off your survivors when the wheels fall off that wreck on the freeway, get it?


Griever's Corner

Remember when February was the month with two President's birthdays?  Remember when you sent some member of the opposite sex a Valentine card?  Remember when you used to work for a railroad that valued you as an employee?  Well, you're living in the past, you old fart! All these things are drifting into the mists of memory and history as America 's railroads forge ahead into the era of idiot management and bumbling bureaucracy. Most successful companies try to improve and learn from their mistakes.  Not UP.  Hell, they promote their mistakes!  What, you say you're an anal-retentive, paranoid, alcoholic, manic-depressive?  No problem, pal!  Have we got a job for you!  How about Superintendent of one of our Service Units?  That way you can fire everyone your little mind can imagine who might endanger your Holy Numbers.  Oh, yeah, and let's poison the minds of our new folks with lies while we're at it.  That'll make for a more efficient rail operation, too.  How any multi-billion dollar corporation can continue to exist with this type of management is beyond the view of this poor, dumb switchman.  Obviously it's beyond the view of about 30% of the new hires as well.  That's how many we're told have quit so far and we expect many more once they wise up….War News: I am as bewildered as anyone else when I consider that VP Dick Cheney's (ever notice how many of these jerks are named Dick?) close ties with UP have made it possible to bring managers from the Iraqi Railways to Omaha to learn how to run their trains.  Gee, Dick, didn't they run OK before you and that mental dwarf from Texas blew them all to hell?  You can't even run our own railroads but, by God, we'll show them A-rabs how to do this shit right!  Good luck, pal…. Meanwhile, back at the yard, we are in the process of training the hell out of as many new hires as management can cram onto a job.  Incredibly, they actually assign two trainees to a Foreman-only job.  Safety first, I guess. The best we can do is help the new folks stay healthy while they learn to railroad.  And us old folks, too.  As always, and especially now, keep it safe out there, look out for each other and work safely.


Snakebites Investment Advisor

Most switchmen know instinctively that the Wall Street bunch don't have a clue.  Hell, we coulda told you that UP stock would peak just before the end of the year.  Even the new guys picked it up.  That's when the execs start massaging the already-mangled numbers to lock in their year-end bonuses.  Well, if you missed the peak, it's not too late to make up for it.  Our head stock picker and voodoo witch doctor has stirred the chicken guts and come up with this recommendation:  Sell all your UP stock options and buy Renzenberger/Armadillo, and do it quick.  Since our train crews spend most of their time in limos, he figures it won't be long before the only wheels turning on this property are the ones with rubber tires!