Here at Snakebites your editor gets a lot of
mail, e- or otherwise. But this is nuts! Everyone on
the planet must have a copy of the proposed UTU 2000 National
Agreement. I got my first copy from a BLE pirate.
Then our pals over at the Underground Railroad started a bunch of
comments on their message board that would lead you to believe that
nobody in their right mind should even read this thing because they
are going to tell you what’s in it.
Some of you old farts remember the TV series
“Dragnet” with Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday. And do you
remember his famous line, “Just the facts, ma’am.”
Well, let me ask that we wait until all the facts are on the table
before we pass judgement on this. Anyway, the bottom
line is this:
Get the facts, make up your own mind, get a
shovel so you can get the bullshit out of the way and make an
…or, Shut up and do as you’re told.
On the Lordsburg Sub, 09/18/00, from about
0830 to 0915, the following conversations took place over the radio
between the Omaha Dispatcher 40 and EP240....you be the judge.
The EP240 gave the Disp40 a 10mph speed
restriction over the west switch Gage, and a 25 mph speed
restriction over the east switch Gage. The Disp 40 wanted to know
1) who was finding these restrictions and 2) was there in fact a
crew available to fix these restrictions. The Disp 40 talked to
'the chief' and told the EP240 that " when the 'Audio Gager'
found the third speed restriction he was to stop work immediately,
and not find any more restrictions until the first three were
fixed, and then he could go back to work. We have too many trains
out and running today and it would cost the railroad millions of
dollars if we have all these restrictions out there." Of
course the third restriction, a 25mph over the west switch Tunis
came shortly thereafter and the Disp 40 informed the EP240 that
that man must stop working.
I happened to be on a 70 mph westward
train that day and we started wondering if ANY of the switches we
were approaching were good for a speed in excess of 25 mph. And if
we were to go in the ditch, how many millions would it cost the
railroad in damage to track, merchandise and delay of trains. Let's
not even ponder the chance of injury or loss of life.
The two unions are now vigorously
pursuing this through the proper channels, hopefully with a copy of
the dispatcher’s tape, and a list of the crews in the area that
heard this conversation.
Brothers and sisters, we all really need to
understand the rules have changed with the change of companies we
work for. Do your job. Do it safely. And what they really want is
for you to do what you're told. Please do not place my name on this
as I don't need my 'level' level to rise.
We Get Letters, Part 1
At first glance of our newly proposed
national contract I was ready to vote a resounding yes for
acceptance. There are just a few minor clarifications I
would like answered first, though.
1 - Will the carriers be purchasing
enough luxury automobiles for our International officers so
that each railroad can be represented on a vanity plate?
2 - If George W. Bush wins in
November, will Charles Little be holding the dual positions
of President of the UTU and secretary of his choice in the
3 - If Gore wins will he accept
what's offered as he is a true Democrat?
4 - Will the completion of the new
UTU Spa and Manicure center being built in Cleveland by the
carriers mean an immediate implementation of the historic 'Shit
in a Bag' policy of the Norfolk Southern or will it be phased in
gradually across our nation’s railroads? (if that's the
case, our brothers in Louisiana really should go first acct.
their spicy Cajun food)
5 - Will the next UTU convention
issue a colored balloon array to all attendees with the cost to
be deducted from TPA with a generous 10% discount?
6 - After signing this Historic
contract, will Charles Little resume 'The Power of One' campaign
and go after the weakened Air Traffic Controllers.
Quote of the Month
A cynic is someone who knows the price of
everything and the value of nothing.
Grinding away at the Rumor Mill…….
We hear Lt. Dan has finally found his niche:
As rest room MTO (manager toilet operations). Be careful,
though; missing the urinal is now a level four offense.
Speaking of level 4….be careful you
don’t split any switches unless your job insurance is paid up or
you really want that extra vacation time. Our Super seems to
think it’s a hanging offense, but he’s willing to bargain it
down to a four-spot..
Speaking of our favorite Super..
Seems he’s declared war on BNSF trains on his railroad and will
stick ‘em in the hole for everything including locals, lite power
and ballast regulators, and has issued orders to that effect to his
managers. Careful, now. Remember we use their railroad,
too. What goes around……
Rumor has it that CMS rewards crew
dispatchers with ice cream bars for doing a “good” job.
Is that true, callers? Hell, if that’s the case
I’ll buy a fifth of Jack Daniels for the first one that can get
through a shift without mangling our agreement.
Yardmaster Sam is coming back on the
ground after putting up with their crap for way too long.
Their loss. Once again, UP proves how well it can run off
Speaking of good help……
When’s the last time a UP officer said “thanks” or “good
job” to you? It doesn’t happen often. But
good work and extra effort happens every day out there.
A little appreciation and recognition for a
job well done goes a long way, a hell of a lot more than threats of
discipline. Seems the harder you work, the more they put on
you, right? Can you imagine how this place would work if
most of the employees didn’t hate the company?
I am proud to work with people who are as
professional and safe as the folks I work with. If the
carrier doesn’t recognize it, at least I do.
Work safe, work smart, follow the rules and look out for each
Myths and Facts
Here at SNAKEBITES, we examine everything
and nothing is sacred. Because nothing is sacred, we are
going to see if you’re as smart as you think you are.
Myth: If you don't understand a
proposed agreement, just vote no! By voting no, everything will
Fact: Everything is in a constant
state of change. Under the Railway Labor Act, a change of agreement
is a series of steps, one of which is membership ratification. If a
proposed agreement fails ratification, the next step is to have
some itinerant philosopher (better known as an arbitrator or
(Presidential Emergency Board) decide what is the best for you.
Myth: Arbitration is a fair process
and you stand an even chance of getting a better agreement than
what was turned down.
Fact: Arbitrators come in three
categories, pro-union, pro-company and neutral. There are virtually
no pro-union arbitrators and damned few neutral ones. Arbitrators
will never, never give you more than what was on the table and will
most often give you less than the negotiated, but not ratified,
Myth: The reason we never strike is
the union is gutless and caves in.
Fact: The Railway Labor Act, which is
federal law, prohibits strikes unless it is a major dispute. Years
of court decisions have interpreted almost all grievances as minor
disputes which forbids striking as a solution.
Myth: Screw what the courts ruled,
let's just shut the bastards down.
Fact: Those same court decisions have
ruled that if employees participate in an illegal work stoppage,
they can be held financially responsible for any loss of revenue,
which means that the railroad can sue you as an individual.
Ask the BLE what happened with a wildcat strike on the Long Island
The Devil and Dick Davidson
The Devil went down to Georgia, to raise a
His first stop CSX, where things were going
He checked on Norfolk Southern, to see how
they were doing
And found their managers stern, the workers
taking a screwing.
Then he went to Omaha and discovered
At Harriman he whooped “Hurrah!” as he
saw what he had found.
“I’m from Hell and seen the worst,
but this place takes the cake.”
“Whoever runs this is truly cursed, this
tops my burning lake.”
He made his way to Dodge Street, looking
for more vice
He stumbled into Dick’s suite, and
declared, “This office will suffice.”
It was filled with fancy plaques and
“There’s no disputing facts, this guy
owes me everything.”
Then Dick walked in and Satan cried,
“Yer soul is mine you turd”
But Dick just smirked as he replied, “You
haven’t got the word?”
“Whadaya mean?” Ol’ Smokey pleaded,
while scratching his horny head,
“The way your workers are being treated,
they’re like the walking dead.”
“You’ve got me there.” Dick
proclaimed, a sneer upon his face
“I’m the one who is to blame for the
culture in this place.”
“When it comes to evil thoughts, you’re
really not so great.”
“Cuz I’m the guy who calls the shots, the
one they really hate.”
“Your not alert I guess, or you must
have been sleeping”
“You haven’t called on CMS nor
“Plus we’ve plans to build a fortress,
and each will have a cell”
“Where all will be oppressed, and we’re
gonna call it Hell.”
Satan studied this infidel and thought
about it some,
Then said, “You can have this part of Hell,
from now ‘till Kingdom come.”
“But when your life is through, your soul
belongs to me”
“For then the bill is due, and nothing is
Dick thought a spell before he would
“I’ve lots of followers in hell, and most
were just like me.”
“You got yourself a deal. But
just remember this.”
“If this pact you repeal, I’ll force
assign you to CMS!”
(Exit Satan, stage left.)