July, 2005



UP Rowing Team in International Event

A Japanese company and the Union Pacific Railroad decided to have a rowing race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day the Japanese team won by a mile.

Afterward, the UP team became very discouraged and depressed. The UP management decided the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A Management Team made up of senior executives was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese team had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the UP team had 8 people steering and one person rowing. So UP management hired a consulting company and paid them vast amounts of money. After six months of hard work, they advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

So the UP Team acted: To prevent losing to the Japanese team again, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

The UP also implemented a new performance system that would give the one person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the Rowing Team Quality First Program, with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. Even new oars and medical benefit incentives were promised for a winner.

At the next race, the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the UP management fired the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new boat, sold the oars and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.

The money saved was distributed to the senior executives as bonuses for a job well done.

Risk and Rules

Have you noticed recently how much more "sensitive" the carrier has become to safety issues? You know, how they are so concerned about our welfare and having a "safe" workplace? Suddenly, the list of Cardinal Safety Rules has become not only a bit longer, but the penalty for a violation of any of these vaunted edicts has become more severe in the land of UPgrade. Safety ain't in it, folks. So too, I notice that a number of the rules covering Remote Control Operations have become high-cost penalties on the Roseville Service Unit. Thirty days off for a misplaced 15-cent plastic clip? Railroad operating rules are not to be taken lightly and I do not advocate a cavalier attitude toward safety at any time. That can get you dead and half the town blown to hell. But the fact remains that the carrier still firmly believes that safety can be accomplished at the tip of the whip. It cannot.

Railroading is inherently and physically a dangerous undertaking. Moving thousands of tons of sometimes toxic and explosive materials around at speed and in all weather sets up a situation that can only be described as risky. One carload weighing 100+ tons is a deadly projectile if it's out of control. We operating employees understand the risks involved far more than those who sit in offices and compile actuarial tables and pie charts. Analyses of accidents produce mountains of data for the crunchers. Data, of course, can be manipulated and when the culture in which that data is received is anti-employee you can see what the conclusions become. And if you should have the bad fortune to become one of those numbers by being injured on the job, you will be treated like a criminal, and you and your family may suffer financial ruin. But, hey, don't get upset and hire an attorney. After all, it's all in the name of safety, right?

Next time: What you REALLY need to know about safety.)

Griever's Corner

In recent correspondence with our local Super, I mentioned that, since the carriers insist on 100% rules compliance, why shouldn't the labor organizations expect 100% compliance with our agreements? After all, what's fair is fair, right? I have no illusions that that will ever happen, of course. Besides the fact that some of them may actually have to look at an agreement, we would then put these ethical dwarfs in such an uncomfortable position that they might actually begin to doubt the crap they were taught at UP's vaunted management training. Can you imagine actually getting paid right every payday? Can you imagine not having to write claims because some dirt-bag scab of a manager is out there doing your work? Can you imagine CMS following the proper calling procedures? Hey, I can dream, can't I?…..Crash & Burn Dep't. A bridge collapse in Galt, Ill. caused major service disruptions in the Midwest. Guess the bridge inspector got furloughed…. My spies tell me that the get together for UP slaves in the Stockton area was a great success. Similar doings for Roseville ? Stay Tuned…...On-Line stuff, check out: You may not agree with everything you read but, what the hell, it might start you to thinking and, well…. Speaking of web forums, if you ever want to see what the digitally degenerate dumbasses do while destroying railroad labor, put on rubber gloves and a gas mask and look at what was once a pretty good forum, United Underground Railroad. Whoever keeps this terminally ill waste of time alive should really get a life and leave the rest of us alone…On the good side of the web, check out This one was started by a new guy looking for answers and is growing by leaps and bounds. If you have questions or answers, or just want to see what everyone's talking about, check it out… Homeland Security Dep't: Ever notice how the carriers tell us to be vigilant and report suspicious activities? Ever try to do that? Ever notice how it gets ignored? Ever notice that your average RR Cop has to cover about 200 miles of railroad? Do you think management's serious about this stuff? Do you believe in the Easter Bunny? Cover your ass and don't get hurt trying to do what they're not willing to do….As always, management is trying to take money out of your pocket in one way or another, so don't get caught doing something dumb. They keep upping the penalty, and so should we. Work safe and look out for each other. Sarge 

Locomotive Inspection for Switchmen

Since Remote control has become a sad fact of life, switchmen have been forced to figure out how to report locomotive defects. This has led to some of the following exchanges between mechanical dep't folks and us dumb-assed switchmen. Here are some actual locomotive defect reports logged into the computer (marked with a D) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by roundhouse employees.

D: Front air hose almost needs replacement.
S: Front air hose almost replaced.

D: Something loose in cab.
S: Something tightened in cab.

D: Evidence of oil leak.
S: Evidence removed.

D: Alerter volume unbelievably loud.
S: Alerter volume set to more believable level.

D: Suspected crack in #1 axle R-side brake shoe.
S: Suspect you're right.

D: Engine missing.
S: Engine found after brief search in engine compartment.

D: Radio constantly hums.
S: Changed radio to channel with lyrics.

D: Sanders won't turn off
S: Charged sanders with Level-5 insubordination

D: Hint of flat spots #3 axle
S: Hint of repair #3 axle

D: Bell only works occasionally
S: Bell only repaired occasionally

D: Horn is really loud
S: Closed all windows

D: Cannot depress independent brake valve
S: Replaced cheerful brake valve with depressed brake valve

D: Gauge light burned out
S: Gauge light placed on vacation

D: Windshield wipers won't work
S: Windshield wipers given stern warning

D: Lots of smoke coming out the stack
S: That is where it is supposed to come out

D: Think the amp gauge is off
S: Think it's on

D: Wheel slip light keeps coming on
S: Replaced wheel slip light

D: Horrible smell coming from toilet
S: Flushed toilet

Moron Manager(s) of the Month

Where do we begin? With the rash of new and totally unqualified managers, we have so much to choose from. Here in Roseville we have the "Attaboy FTX" program wherein the subject of the test is given a favorable FTX slip for walking properly or wearing boots. Of course, these poor souls have no operating experience, so are totally in the dark about what real railroaders do. This leads to some of the following:

An officer boards a train and tells the crew he is going to ride with them. They start to proceed and he immediately gives them an FTX violation for not having a "Job Briefing" with him.

A conductor in Portola was FTXed for not sitting down on arrival at Portola. (There's actually a rule for this, but geez…)

Then there's the new guy training for a console herder position, inside the building, who's cited for not wearing a green vest. In the building! They shamed the manager into removing that one.

There are many more, I'm sure, but you get the idea. I guess the point of all this nonsense is to indoctrinate these brand-new, off the street managers in the art of being totally chickenshit without the advantage of understanding why they are being chickenshit. 

So, our Moron Manager(s) of the month Award go to all our new managers, as well as some of the not so new ones, who have checked their common sense and fairness at the door and are well on their way to becoming the new generation of UP Nazis.