December, 2000 Snakebites


2nd Annual Snakebites Christmas Wish List

Lt. Dan wishes he were a Colonel again. (And so do we.)

Everyone in El Paso wishes us luck.  We offered to send him back, but no takers.

Touchdown wishes all the officers a Merry Christmas and wants you to know he will be
spending the holidays with his family, all expenses paid,  while you guys work nights. 

Last year, Lee Neal was wishing he had a date.  This year, he’s getting married. 
Be careful what you wish for.

All the post-85 guys wish TPA would go away so the old heads would realize we are all 
working for peanuts here.

Sam K. wishes someone else could be the truant officer.  (Everyone else wishes Sam wasn’t so good at his job.)

Spike wishes he could go to lunch on time, and quit calling him Spike!

UTU leadership wishes the BLE would shut the hell up.

BLE leadership wishes the UTU would shut the hell up.

The membership wishes they would ALL shut the hell up.

Year-End Wrap-Up: Omaha

Geez..where do we begin?   As usual, UP’s micro-managing, jerk-off, no-brain, dumb-assed, damned-fool, hare-brained, go-to-hell management has brought us to another brink of disaster.  In spite of everything the bosses have done to this mega-merged railroad, there still seems to be a glimmer of life left in the over-worked, over-extended and under-rewarded work force.  Not that the over-paid, over-rated mangers in Omaha, that pillar of salt in fertile Mid-America, could have done anything about it. 

As usual, Dick and Ike have spent more money on the three-dollar accountants and hack writers to fill up the annual report than they do on real railroading.  Indeed, if the operation of a real railroad ever came up over the morning coffee in Omaha, they’d probably say something like this:

Ike: “Hey, Dick, look at this report. We’ve got less than 150 recrews system-wide yesterday!”

Dick: “Hell, Ike.  You still haven’t learned how to read UP stats.  That just means we got away with not reporting 150 personal injuries!”

Ike: “You mean 150 employees got hurt at work yesterday?”

Dick: “Well, not exactly.  We had 22,356 recrews, but to make this thing work, we had to move some of the numbers over to another column so that the ratio of recrews to managers bonuses worked out to the reportable injury rate less the FRA bribe quota. Get it?”

Ike: “Well, gee Dick, I don’t know.  I used to make toasters by the millions and nobody ever got hurt that I know of.”

Dick: “Look, moron, we didn’t hire you to ask questions.  You’re supposed to use your influence to jack up the stock price and put your reputation as a straight-up businessman to work to cover up the stuff we really do here at UP.  If you can’t handle that, you better look for a job in the Bush administration.”

Ike: “Wait a minute!  You’re saying that if I don’t like it here I can go and get a job with government!  Didn’t Dick Cheney do that after he left UP?  My God!!  You guys want me to be the next candidate for Vice-President!  This is great!”

Dick: “Cool your jets, Ivor.  All we really want is to get your semi-honest ass out of here before you figure out what we’re really doing and go and tell Phil Anschutz about it.”
And so it goes………….

...This is "Worker" Speaking... 

I promised the Editor of this fine publication that I would write a "post-election" issue.  Thanks to the republican hacks in Florida and the US Supreme Court, I got a 36 day reprieve....!

Well, now we have a republican moron from Texas, who was apparently elected by a bunch of democratic morons from Florida..  What does that mean for us working stiffs?  I predict four years of pain and hardship.  Kiss "work - rest" extra boards good bye, for starters.  The UP was agreeable to work rest as a way of getting the FRA off their backs, when fatigued train crews started playing "bumper cars" with the equipment.  No need for that now, as we will soon see a Bush appointee as the new FRA director.  Likely, the FRA will be transformed from a regulatory agency to a society of federally funded trainmasters, who will be setting up Embassy Suite style "duck blinds" at your favorite remote sidings to assist the UP weed weasels with their efficiency testing.  Not only will you be subject to Upgrade discipline, how ‘bout a nice personal fine for an intentional and/or willful violation of the operating rules? 

Like the TV ad says: "But Wait...There's More....!" 

Look for nation's railroads to make a serious run at changing or eliminating FELA.  (If you don't understand what FELA is, shame on you for not attending any union meetings). 
Also on the table is our Railroad Retirement Plan, which the republicans would dearly love to carve up.  The UTU tried and almost succeeded in getting the Railroad Retirement Act changed to permit the old heads to retire at age 60 with 30 years of service.  It would have also vested the new employees in the plan after 5 years.  A couple of republican senators, smelling a Bush presidential victory, worked to kill it, and so they did.  (While I'm on the subject, let's not forget the Democratic Morons over at the BLE and the BMWE, who by NOT supporting this important legislation at the outset, delayed its timely handling by congress, a factor which contributed significantly to it's demise). 

Did someone say "National Agreement?"  Given that former UP Board of Directors Member Dick Cheney is now our Vice President Elect, I would be very surprised if we even saw a national agreement ratification effort.  The word is that the nations railroads are backing away from the tentative deal they made with the UTU, figuring that they would be much better off with a Dick Davidson Bush appointed PEB.  If you don't know understand what that means, STRIKE TWO, SHAME ON YOU, for not attending any union meetings or reading your mail.

The past 40 days has given us all a remarkable lesson in civics.  It proves beyond any doubt, that all branches of our government are infected and influenced by politics.  Ultimately, it was a majority of Supreme Court members (appointed by Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr.) that decided to give the presidential election to George W. Bush.  Because of retirements, over the next four years, "W" will likely have the opportunity to appoint at least 3 new judges to the supreme court, and hundreds of federal court judges.  These folks ain't gonna be Democrats!  Possible Impact: the further eroding of laws dealing with railway safety. 
Like it or not, it was in the best interest of the working class to see Gore get elected.  I'm still amazed at how many blue collar workers and union members continue to support the republicans.  Hey...!  What good are your guns if you don't have a job and can't afford to buy the ammo?!

Happy Holidays and until next time, keep the faith and be safe. 

Safety First Dep’t.

In the interest of safety the UP policy weenies have had the top gear removed from the quad runners the carmen use to work cars to limit the speed these things can go. It seems someone somewhere managed to crash one and injure himself. Now they drive with them revved up to the redline to keep up with their work. The noise drowns out the not always
loud telltale air sounds of brake defects.   The last three trips on trains out of West Colton I have found bleeders cocked, a cracked reservoir and a missing bolt at a flange gasket. All easy stuff to fix or replace but they have to hear it first.

Griever’s Corner: Year in Review

Well, another year closer to retirement.  Of course, we took two steps backward when the BASTARDS in DC shot holes in 60/30.  It’s not dead yet, but in need of major first-aid…… Last January, they cut jobs and furloughed the new guys.  This January they will cut jobs and furlough the new guys.  But wait!  This year they’re gonna train more new guys while the old new guys are cut off!!…..The long-planned project to notch the tunnels for double-stacks on the Mountain has been cancelled.  Seems a couple of officers and a couple of train crews who should have known better ran the stackers against the current east out of Roseville, and they made it over the hill with only minimal damage. A few more passes to knock off the bigger rocks and the UP will have saved millions…It’s official: since the arrival of our new Super, we are no longer in the railroad business, we are in the discipline business.  Investigations have tripled……..Bad Joke of The Year: Empowerment. Yeah, right, just try to bad-order that (whatever) and see how far you get….. Reverend Ike passes over Sacto:  Our paid informant tells us that Mr. Evans’ plane couldn’t land because of fog last week, so we were not able to hear the speech he had prepared for the worthy employees. Instead, Jeff Verhaal made a few remarks that nobody remembers and the agreement folks all got a day’s pay for showing up.  It’s in the budget, you know…Remember the Texas test?  Wrap a signal with black cloth and then set up a new guy to run past it?  Somebody let me know what happened, please…TWC seems to be dying a well-deserved death.  I’d like to hear about this next year, too……Notice how the number of OS junkies has dropped?  Rehab works, Brothers!….I got in trouble this year with some folks because of my comments about the region meetings and the International.  I like those folks, in fact they are the reason I put up with this BS.  But my views haven’t changed much. Besides, I like the nickname “Chicken Little.” … We wrote about the “good old days” many times this year.  We always felt we performed a public service and still made a profit (sometimes).  And we always felt that we were in an honorable and historic profession.  No more.  You can be replaced by, well…..On the other hand, the next generation of railroaders is in many ways tougher than we are….hopefully, smarter, too.  We’ve let our leaders in labor lose touch with us, and let the carriers touch us too much.  If these so-called labor leaders and the gangsters the carriers hire for Labor Relations don’t stop playing games with the lives of the people who make all this happen, well …. Railroaders, like Americans in general, will put up with a lot of bullshit.  But eventually, usually at the last minute, they will say, “Enough, dammit!!”  And then there will be hell to pay. 
My personal best wishes of the season to all of you, and Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Year!


Fly-On-The-Wall Dept.

Overheard in the LA Super’s office………………
"Hey, John! I see that accidents are down around 50% in the operating department this year! The percentages are down company wide! What are we going to get for a safety award? I've noticed that there aren't any sign-up sheets posted for sizes like last year."
 "Well, Joe. They were thinking about UP watches for everybody, but there's no money in the budget for a safety award."
 "So, let me get this straight. The company is making HUGE profits, managers are going to get a bonus because of all labor cost savings due directly to the layoffs system wide, we're having a great safety year, and we'll get NOTHING?"
"That pretty much sums it up."
"John, you know what that means, don't you?"
 "For some people, that means there's still 2 weeks left in the year to get hurt..."

 Just when you'd thought you'd heard it all...

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