December, 2001



Editor’s Note
Welcome to our annual Christmas issue, and our apologies to regular ‘Bites readers for not putting out an issue since last summer.  We have been wearing our other hat a lot recently (embattled union guy hat) and haven’t had much time for frivolity.  Another reason:  You folks need to send us some material!! We offer prose and poetry from the usual suspects for your entertainment and, we hope, enlightenment.

SNAKEBITES Annual Awards

We are proud once again to honor those individuals and entities whose achievements and actions carry the fine art of railroading to new highs/lows.  All awards are non-refundable.

The DJ Shudak Memorial ”Shit-Happens” Award:  To Barry and Doug for managing to get twelve cars in a space formerly occupied by one, and right in front of the Yard Office, yet.

Carl Bradley Spiffy Dresser Award: Rod Chandler and his wardrobe.

Asshole(s) of the Year Award:  Senators Lott, Domenici and that jerk from Oklahoma we can’t remember.

U.S. Navy Heavy Cruiser Award:  Lee Neal’s boat.

The Ike Evans let-‘em-eat-cake Award:   To the folks who were hired a year ago and have barely turned a wheel since.

Get-a-life Award:  The guy who thought up the little tag on the switch points test.

Cookin’-the-books Award:  Corridor managers in Omaha who have reduced the number of hours-of-service reliefs, but next year they’ll really have to get a handle on all those lite engine moves.

Marquis de Sade Discipline Award:  Who else but Omaha bin Shudak?

Joseph Stalin “Reign-of-Terror” Award :  To Dick Davidson, who has managed to bring together all employees, both contract and non-contract alike, into one glorious body united in their common fear for their jobs and loathing for this company.

Buyout?…what buyout?

In yet another round of managing to piss off all of their employees, UPRR has
changed their mind about giving $100, 000 separation allowances to trainmen
and switchmen in the LA Hub and instead have served a series of termination
notices to folks that allegedly failed to respond to recall notices. After
accepting record-breaking numbers of applications to "get the hell out of
here" UPRR announced that there had been a mix-up. A spokesman for UPRR
stated that signals had been crossed for the holidays. "The buy-out was
supposed to be dispersed on April Fools Day," he said, "and the Termination
Letters were supposed to be sent out for Christmas." The spokesman further
added that "The Happy Holidays Termination Program is now in full swing and
a REAL buy-out will be forthcoming on April Fools Day so that when it
doesn't happen, folks won't be surprised."

This is Worker speaking…. 

No doubt about it, our world changed forever on Sept. 11.  But does anyone really realize and understand what the railroads and the labor unions did, subsequent to the 9-11 attacks?
Hey, here we are, three short months after we've declared WAR on terrorism.  Bombs are falling, Taliban fighters are running for the border...and WE get congress to pass the Railroad Retirement Reform Act.  Sure, it was self-serving on the part of all concerned parties.  The Railroads wanted the tax breaks and the unions (most of them anyway) wanted to lower the retirement age to 60, etc. 

The point I'm trying to make, is if the unions and the railroads can get together and push thru a railroad retirement bill, why can't we work together on other projects that are of mutual interest?  It'll never happen again!  Why?  We've had our little chats before, when I pontificated over supposed ongoing Carrier efforts to change the culture and thinking of its officers.  I don't know about you, but a number of the company officers out there don't think of themselves as UP employees.  They think they're traffic cops, with monthly ticket quotas, and we, the rank and file employees are "perps," to be harassed, abused, and cajoled at their whim. 
The cooperation between labor and management with the railroad retirement project was a "fluke."  As long as the railroad management continues to maintain that "plantation owner's mentality" we will never have an environment where we will be treated like we're valued employees. 

Now that everyone has gotten what they wanted, it will be back to "business as usual," with denied penalty claims, hassles from CMS, fighting for my pay...come to think of it, I was fighting with CMS and Timekeeping while congress was deliberating...!  Pinch me, I must be dreaming....! 

On another front, it looks like the new BLE leadership outdid themselves with the recent "get out the vote against any merger" campaign.  Now that a merger with the UTU is off, rumor on the street is that the BLE is working to merge with the Teamsters.  The BLE website has got a picture of the current BLE president (can't remember his name - and if history is any indication, he'll be recalled shortly) and Jimmy Hoffa Jr.  No explanation as to the reason for the picture.  Guess they could have had their International Officers sitting on ponies, or on Santa's lap...but instead, they had a "photo op." with Hoffa, for no particular reason? Maybe the BLE is craving for a bus department of their own? 

On yet another front, it looks like the UTU has started the race for the "brass ring" or black box.  (If you've been hiding under a rock the past few months, I'm not talking about a stage prop for a  magic show!)

2002 is shaping up to be a fun filled year.  I'm looking forward to the ride.  Until next time, take care, be safe, and have a happy holiday!

Snakebites Investor Hot Line

As a new service to our readers we offer space for investment advice from some of the sages of the switch shanty.  Hell, nobody can be wrong all the time!  This from Mike C.

If you bought $10,000 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $490. If you bought $10,000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, and traded in the cans for the nickel deposit, you would have $790. 
Our advice: start drinking.

BNSF Management Axiom #26
Everybody lies, but it doesn’t matter because nobody listens.

Griever’s Corner

Get the shotgun dep’t.  Since the BLE has rejected yet another offer to “merge”, it looks like the shotgun wedding is back on.  Byron doesn’t like rejection, boys….We hear LA hub managers will have to forego their bonuses this year account the dough was needed to pay claims for the switchmen.  Sorry, guys. (not)….CMS has figured out a way to get an extra board for free.  Just starve ‘em out.  Furlough the poor souls and then ask them to work off the cut-off board.  Keep taking that “emergency” work, folks.  That way they’ll never recall you…New Low: Action in the Senate by certain members who think it’s their money.  New High: Whoopee! It passed in spite of the bastards!  Now we all get two years off our sentences….Another reason to work safely: UP managers who turn away professional medical assistance and haul the injured off to a “doc-in-the-box” in a company vehicle.  Ask anyone in Stockton….My pal on the Norfolk Southern says the “zero tolerance” program is a smashing success.  Accidents have stayed the same but investigations are up and morale is in the dumpster, if it’s possible to get any lower.  Looks like railroading in the 21st century is becoming just like the 19th…Work safely, follow the rules and look out for each other.  Have a great holiday season and a safe and prosperous new year.