Volume 99 Issue 11           Roseville, CA                               
November 10, 1999

Seems there's a regional vice president making a tour of his railroad with
his business car and one locomotive.  Headed eastward enroute to a major
terminal and an overnight stop, he brusquely asks the engineer what speed he
is operating at.  The engineer replies "70MPH".  The regional vice president
turns the air blue with the statement that, "by god, we had better be
operating at 60MPH".  "Why?" asked both the engineer and general road
foreman.  "Because this is a freight train".  "Uh, the engine is geared for
70MPH".  "That may be, but it's a freight engine and that's why we'd better
be operating at 60MPH".  Gee, we never had that problem on SP.

On the same trip a few days later, the same vice president and general
manager is ready to begin another day of his tour and so the head end gets
permission to operate the electric switch lock and enter main track for
northward movement.  They proceed at restricted speed to the first automatic
block signal displaying a more favorable aspect and begin to accelerate.  The
regional vice president gets on the radio and asks why the movement is
accelerating.  The engineer responds that he's gotten a favorable aspect at
an intermediate ABS signal.  "I don't care", says the regional vice
president.  "I want this movement made at restricted speed to the next
absolute signal displaying a proceed indication.  There might be CTC failure
and there could be a conflicting movement out here".  Trouble with that logic
is if there was CTC failure, there never would've been permission granted to
enter the main track.

And this is the guy who is hell on people who slobber past signals displaying
stop indication.  Shows exactly where rules knowledge on the UP helps a
career.  There are lots more where this came from.  The San Antonio Division
is a real barrel of monkeys all working on the same banana.     (Ed. Note:
see story on UP training below.)

More to come

We have and continue to offer supporters of the carrier equal time and some
space to express their views and opinions relating to the editorial content
of SNAKEBITES.  We would be totally insensitive if we allowed someone's
feelings to be hurt.   However, since your Editor has taken the reins of this
honorable and raucous publication, we have received no reply worthy of
publication.  Our  fellow wordsmiths at UPINFO and other company organs have
failed in their journalistic duties to defend themselves from our so-called 
malicious and justified attacks.  So, IN THE INTEREST OF FAIRNESS, we offer
an entire page of the next issue for the defense of the Union Pacific
Railroad.   We will not change your content one bit.  We may edit for space
only.   Come on; take a shot! 


The Great Locomotive Chase

Are you aware of the new locomotive lease program?  For the next four years,
UP will take delivery of 1000 new SD-70s on a five year lease.   UP will make
money on this transaction because they will retire 1500 "old"
locomotives and the 650+  that were to be rebuilt.  The money made by selling the older
locomotives (includes our SD-40 fleet) and the money made by not having to
rebuild 650 locomotives (i.e., lost RR jobs) will pay for the lease for the
first 3 or 4 years.  The last year to 18 months this becomes a losing
proposition (remember that this enrichment program was only for 48 months
starting Sept. '99) and after the fifth year, when the lease expires, we can
buy these worn-out locomotives for 96% of the new price.  Of course, if you
do the math, you can see this makes no financial sense, but it does beef up
profits nicely for the next three years or so.   Hope everyone out there is
60+ years old with three years left to retirement!!


Dear Bites,
I'm really enjoying Snakebites.  I always take a couple copies to our union
meeting.  It's a great tension reliever!  Keep up the good work.  If nothing
else UP management is great comedy.  We have lots of the same problems in our
small area too.  Las Vegas doesn't have a yard, just 3 tracks running through
town with 2 small switching/storage yards nearby.  Our main problem is dumb
dispatching, mostly from the CAD system which only understands priority train
symbols and doesn't take into account track ups and downs and the fact that a
coal empty with good power can outrun (by about twice) the uphill speed of an
underpowered double stack train.  Guess who sits in the pass and waits for
Our extra boards are always short and on weekends especially the phone rings
constantly searching for bodies to work, and after a few hours of that then
CMS just starts dropping turns, 4 or 5 at a time.  My low seniority friend
just got cut off the X-board.  By the HUB agreement he'll be living in his
car in Salt Lake, while the Salt Lake engineer cut off will be allowed to use
his conductor's seniority at his home terminal.  This doesn't make any sense
to me.  Talk about demoralizing! 
Once again, keep bitin' them in the butt, nobody deserves it more.

Janet, the engineer from Las Vegas

Why union guys turn gray.

As a local chairman, I do not actively encourage sniveling.  On the
telephone, it occurs often enough of its own accord and generally happens
around dinnertime or just before sex.   Sniveling is a great tool to use
against your enemy, the managers.  It really irritates them and pushes the
blood pressure to the upper end of the scale. Please continue to snivel in
that direction.  We all know that CMS and timekeeping are screwed up, and to
these we are allowed to apply Whining, a type of sniveling, an art form
reserved for switchmen and engineers.  (Sorry, Conductors, you're limited to
sniveling only, much like Conductor only.  Take the extra pay and shut up.)  
I know there are problems out there and you think your local chairmen are on
the front lines with all the right phone numbers to call and can fix
anything.   I hope nobody still believes that.    Nothing happens without
DOCUMENTATION!   I know it's tough, but you have to provide all the facts to
your griever or he can't help you.  And that doesn't mean, "Hell, man I told
you that dude ran around me a month ago!  Where's my money!!"    LC's
response: No documentation? Tough Shit.
Update:  UP Labor Relations has access to work histories all the way back to
Granville Dodge.   But let a Local Chairman ask about a claim from last May,
and all of a sudden, the entire system shuts down.  Go figure. I guess it's
just UP's version of Windows '72.

Other Matters. By the time you read this, UTU locals nationwide will have
elected new officers or, more likely, re-elected the same damned fools.   It
should be noted that the people who represent you are not in it for the
money. (At least until they get to the International.)  Nor are they in it
for the glory.  Or the fun.  Or the glamour.     Your union is YOUR union.  
If you haven't served as an officer or committeeman, I gotta ask you:  WHY
Sure, it means giving up a little free time.  Sure, it means taking an active
role in the decisions that affect your job.  Long hours and low pay.  Sounds
like railroading to me.   You might even start coming to union meetings. 
Safety:  I had a chance to review the BLE's  complaint forms on the new
Roseville yard.   Enlightening and informative.   We intend to follow through
with the fight for safe working conditions and cooperate with the BLE
locally,  no matter what the drones at the International do.    I still don't
understand why we all just can't get along.   Of course, we do.   I can
assure anyone who reads this that I consider my BLE counterpart a trusted and
able ally in our battles against the carrier, and I'll bet the same holds
true across the nation.  (No matter what the jackasses in Ohio say.)   
Members come first, NOT politics!
Speaking of safety, I've been told that Roseville Yard  is looking pretty
good,  number-wise. Too bad numbers don't mean anything to you if you're
injured.  But,  I'm really proud of the job we've done here as far as safety
goes.  With all the new people working here and a new yard and changing
operations, we've done a fine job.  Keep it up;  for yourselves, your
families, for your brothers and sisters on the job.   Well Done.
Keep looking out for each other,

MORE  (can you stand it?)  PUNKISMS

1 Punkyroids         That minor irritation felt after a Punky ass chewin'
2 Punkins               You remember, Halloween and stuff. (or Khan's head)
3 Punkocracy          Whatever you think, Punky Rules.
4 Puncuation        Pause while you're waiting for your level.
5 Punctillionism.       Detailed Ass-kissin' by subject                        
6 Punkrastination            Putting off No. 1

Question Of The Month.

"If you owned your own business, would you hire these guys?"  asked at a
meeting in Omaha about FRA inspectors.


Yet another irate employee writes:

Dear Snake,
Having only been a recently lied to and employed switchman, I felt it wise to
keep my peace about the UP.   However, I would like to apply some of the
training I picked up in my last profession and let you know how this place
really works.  
First, let me qualify myself by saying I have a degree in accounting and have
given up a fairly good job on the basis of the liars UP sent out to recruit
people.  Not only that, the UP folks in charge of the numbers have to work
with the most out-dated trash I have ever seen as far as accounting practices
go.  Not only that, their managers have absolutely NO experience in
accounting that I can see.  There are a few in there who try real hard, but
after all,  what can one person do, when the whole system sucks?   You can't
make money in any business when you can't handle your accounts receivable. In
some cases, these morons are hauling freight for FREE! Somebody ought to tell
the managers and bean-counters about that one!   Anyone in Omaha know this?  
Doubt it.  They can't do the math either.   I wish I hadn't made the mistake
of going to work for the UP, but I have applications out for some REAL
businesses.  For those of you who are stuck here;  you have my sympathy.
I'll sign my name when I no longer have to get a reference.
Pissed in Stockton.


Having been advised, once again, not to confer this illustrious award upon
unwilling and ignorant recipients, the Editors, once again, ignore sage
counsel and proceed.
This month's honoree is a recently converted trainman who has seen the error
of his ways and become a switchman apprentice.
Our candidate has just recently been re-elected to his post as Sec.-Treas. of
Local 492 for the ninety-third time, as well as upsetting the incumbent of
that same body for the post of Legislative Rep.   In his spare time he
manages to cause trouble in so many other ways that we can't list them here
for lack of space.   He probably knows more about what's happening in your
local than you do. 
After being piloted by an experienced switchman young enough to be his
grandson, our honoree successfully completed an entire shift as the Hump
Utility Man almost without incident. (Our pilot says it took 30 mins. to show
him how to turn on his lantern.) We eagerly await his first solo performance,
since the carrier has deemed pilots an unnecessary expense.  We hereby award
the DUMB-ASSED SWITCHMAN of THE MONTH, with over-achiever oak leaf cluster,
to Brother Daryl Stinchfield.   You may pick up your cheeseburgers at any


To the Editor,
I am a "foamer" here in Wisconsin and SNAKEBITES has made its way onto our
E-mail system.  The Union Pacific Adams Subdivision is my south lot line. I
showed some of the guys on the local switch job here in Adams and they got a
big kick out of it.  I think the yard foreman said something along the lines
of "aint that the truth" as he was reading some of your articles. 
Most all of the guys here in Adams are old CNW people and the most common
remark here is that "for every two steps forward CNW took, UP takes three
backward".   UP trains based out of Adams serve the bustling industrial
center of Wisconsin Rapids via trackage rights.  They share a joint main line
and yard there with the reluctantly union Wisconsin Central.
Since competition for carloads in the 'Rapids is intense because two
railroads serve all of the papermills, CNW had their people from switchmen to
section crews talking to the customers, saying "Is there anything we can get
for you?" . Just like a real railroad should be operated.  Some switch crews
were actually calling customer on their cell's asking them if there were any
cars that were ready to be picked up early.   I was told that Omaha got wind
of this and, shortly after the UP assimilation of the CNW, a memo went up in
the yard office to the effect of "ONLY U.P. customer service representatives
are allowed to contact customers."
The moral of the story is...Never let good customer relations get in the way
of corporate bureaucracy. 
Karl R.,
Adams Wisconsin.


Start with a cage containing five apes.  (Parallel drawn here is not a

In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it.  Before long,
an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.  As soon
as he touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water.
After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result - all the
apes are sprayed with cold water. This continues through several more
attempts. Pretty soon, when another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other
apes all try to prevent it.
Now, turn off the cold water. Remove one ape from the cage and replace it
with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. 
To his horror, all of the other apes attack him.  After another attempt and
attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.
Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one.
The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes
part in the punishment with enthusiasm.
Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to
the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have
no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are
participating in the beating of the newest ape.
After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes that were
sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again
approaches the stairs. Why not?
Because that's the way they've always done it, and that's the way it's always
been around here.

 And that's how company policy begins....

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