April Snakebites




All the News that’s Fit to Print
UP is busy lobbying the Nebraska legislature to give them a tax break to do what they had planned anyway.  Up to 500 jobs are to be transferred to Omaha from St. Louis and other locations.  That is, as long as Uncle Pete gets a free tax ride from the taxpayers of Omaha and the rest of Nebraska in the form of up to 15% off their property, building and other state taxes.  Wake up, folks!  Remember the term “corporate welfare”?  This way they get a free ride on the new building they propose and can dump the old, patched up headquarters building off on some unsuspecting local real estate broker and his equally dumb banker. 
UP never did anyone any favors.  To allow the state legislature to pass a law which will be sold to the public as “for the public good”, or “ it’ll get more employment in our local area.”
Is absolute bullshit!  Anyone who can honestly say that the Union Pacific Railroad has given more to any community they have touched than they have stolen from that community is out of touch with reality. 

A Seasonal Note
A conductor in Livonia yard was charged with not checking to see if the switch was free of debris before lining it. It seems that an officer placed an egg in the switch points as a test, the conductor saw the egg and figured gee, that’s funny, and lined the switch. So now we're all Easter Egg hunting!    It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.

View from the Hump
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, the Roseville Hump has been a source of heartburn for UP management ever since the first car rolled down the lead through about a thousand Dowty retarders and shot out the other end of the bowl like a scalded cat.  This should have been a wake-up call to the poor fools in charge of the Grand Opening, (most of whom are no longer in positions of authority) but the message was lost in UP’s usual massive system of denial and blame.  So here we are, almost two years later, and does it work?  Well, that depends on who you ask. 

The engineering and design types have long since disappeared, covering their tracks behind them, so the local managers are left holding the bag.  According to them, the whole thing just needs to be “fine-tuned” a bit and we’ll be humping 1800 cars a day like clockwork.  On the other hand, the Switchmen and Yardmasters who have to work this mess every day, day in and day out, know the hard truth.  This “Jewel of the West” yard is a failure and the only thing holding the whole fiasco together is the hard work of experienced employees who know that if it totally fails their jobs are on the line. 

The new management buzzword this month is “accountability.”  OK guys, who’s accountable for the 150 mil you bozos dumped into this bottomless pit?   Who’s going to fix this monumental screw-up?  I’m waiting……..

I. M. Pissed, Conductor and UP Stockholder

We get Letters, Part 23
Has anyone ever considered the thought of filing a lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad for unreimbursed expenses that the company forces on its employees?  I believe that the dislocation and travel expenses we occur as trainmen should not be a burden to the employees or the IRS.  Union Pacific Railroad has shifted their operating costs on to us to the point where putting food on the table is an issue.  The employees pass these expenses on to the IRS, which should not be their burden, either.  Our contracts have imposed major hardships on families, and it is time for us to take a stand.  There have been successful judgements against corporations who have forced employees to cover operating costs.  (Kerr v. Snap-On Tool Co.)  The employees had to agree to cover the operating costs as a condition of employment and they still won!  IT IS TIME!

Going Broke in Oregon as UP stock continues to rise.

Griever’s Corner
Last time we stepped in it big time and forgot to credit our brothers in San Antonio for the “Deadhead from Hell story.”  Our apologies.  Check out their website at www.upsasu.org .  Stood up again dep’t:  February’s local chairmen’s meeting with Superintendent Sheetrock was shot down at the last minute because this money-short, tight fisted operation had to send its senior officers 300 miles to see 10 cars on the ground at Dunsmuir, CA. At least we didn’t have to duck flying office supplies….Don’t give a drop of your blood or any other fluid to the carrier. (Yeah, I know all the wisecracks.)  The Big Nothing So Far got caught trying to genetically classify its employees as to their propensity to injury.  Look out, folks, the RRs are trying to evade their responsibility once again.  If you’re hurt, shut up and ALWAYS call a Union Officer….Norfolk Southern, one of Uncle Pete’s competitors, has announced that it has given its senior management a substantial bonus this year, in spite of lackluster performance. Of course, this means that the Rev. Ike and Dickie Boy will get their usual totally underserved and lofty sums very soon. After all, the NS can’t do better than us, can they? …Coming up on our web site:  The Foothill Chronicles, the dramatic and exciting story of one service unit’s struggle to solve all the problems inherent in running a semi-successful railroad in Northern California… Trainmaster Jack Fuller has chosen to leave the Union Pacific Railroad.  This may not sound like a big deal unless you know Jack. You’ll notice that I called him Trainmaster, the traditional title of a railroad officer, not some kind of three-letter “manager.”  Jack has always been admired and respected by the troops out in the field.  He is a fair and humane officer who gets the job done without harassment and will not tolerate the kind of bullying and anti-social behavior so common on today’s UP.   Jack is from the old school.  If you screw up, you may get an ass-chewing, but not a “level” to get you closer to being fired.  I’ve known a lot of officers in my railroad career, but few have measured up to this guy.  Once again, UP has run off some of the best help they ever had. 

Work Safe, and keep an eye on the new guys…..


“The most subservient slaves are those who have been told they’re free and don’t know any better.” 

Wm. B. Leavenworth

Free Railroad Rules Classes (Paid Advertisement)
“Union Pacific offers FREE rules instruction in several locations to all those interested. We guarantee that if you pass our classes, you will get:  A seniority number, a cushy spot on the cut-off board, a stack of bills you can’t pay, less-than-pocket-change unemployment benefits, low self-esteem, managers who will say, “It’s all your fault!”, and a nervous twitch whenever you see the color yellow.  Results may vary.  Prior experience and engineer certification mean nothing.  Call 1-800-CUT-MEOFF today for your FREE information packet.  Remember, you must be willing to give up the good job you have now and wait for UP to call you, so don’t have a life.  Management positions always available due to high turnover.”

(Thanks to Bat M. for the idea) 

History Lesson
The standard gauge for railroads in most of the English-speaking world is 56 1/2 inches.  One may wonder how this came about, but it’s really quite simple.  Early  railways in England and Ireland were built by the same folks who built the tramways, which had existed since before the industrial revolution. And these tramways were built on the same pattern as wagons had been built for hundreds of years before that.  In order to avoid destroying their wheels and axles on the rough roads of the time, they were designed to run in the existing ruts.  Most of the major roads of the time had ruts in them for centuries.  They were part of the system of Roman roads built throughout the empire to accommodate the war chariots of Imperial Rome, which were pulled by two horses.  Specifications and bureaucracies live forever.  So the next time you are told to do something and ask what horse’s ass came up with this idea, you’ll know the answer. It probably took two of them.  Because Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back end of two horses, the pattern was set for railroad management for centuries.  Some things never change.

(Special thanks to Annie O.)

Bye-bye, boys!
In their never-ending quest to rid themselves of former SP officers, UP has offered an early retirement/buy-out to those who qualify.  Our spies in Omaha tell us that the carrier has decided they can get by with fewer useless managers so, in their usual logical fashion, they get rid of the most qualified.  Of course, this makes the ones who remain behind look better because the smart ones they used to compare them to are gone.  Here in Roseville we bid farewell to Ed Kief, Ed Wiseman and Lt. Dan.  Keif and Wiseman have been replaced but nobody can fill the shoes of Lt. Dan.  We understand there is a system-wide search going on to find a qualified water-bottle officer.   Our condolences to the survivors.

We Get Letters, again
Ed. Note: I get about 10 or so like this every month.  What do you think?
I am a railfan in former CNW territory in Central Iowa. My  grandfather (R.I.P.) worked 25 years for the CNW as a switchman. First off, the UP's prize Overland Route across Iowa has 53 slow orders on one main alone between Boone and Clinton, IA. Reminds me of what the CNW main was in the 1970's. Pretty soon, you will hear of a wreck on this line.  Many days, trains are backed up waiting to get into Clinton. On the Spine Line, south of Des Moines is a parking lot, with sidings blocked holding dead trains. It's a mess! 
Dave, Sons of the CNW

The Last Straw…
As I’m sure most of the SP west folks have already heard, the “Team West Colton” concept has gone right in the crapper thanks to a leaked communication between the nazi minions in their further quest to destroy what’s left of the little trust we ever had for UP management.  Nice going, guys.  Dick will probably give you all a promotion for this one.  Either that or kick your stupid butts.

The carrier and UTU came to a meeting of the minds and dropped the ridiculous lawsuit against some of the members there for supposedly slowing down their operations.  Nobody ever gave a thought to the fact that these number-crunchers have tied both hands behind our backs in the name of injury prevention so that we can’t get anything done, anyway.  Nevertheless, they continue to persecute the very folks who make their meaningless jobs possible in the first place.  Bottomfeeders in Roseville, set-‘em-up and bust ‘em in West Colton are just the beginning.  Incompetent, arrogant jackasses like these are now in charge where railroaders used to rule.  The editors of Snakebites believe that the solution lies in doing exactly as you are told.  If you do exactly as you are told they have no way to attack you.  In fact, things will go into the dumpster so fast they won’t be able to bring in new managers fast enough to screw it up into the next level. (Pardon the term!)  So, Remember:
We always work safely, we do not “slow down”, since it is illegal, we only do as we are told. 
Gee, we’re sorry your railroad doesn’t work any more, guess you forgot how to do this stuff in your rush to bolster the stock price and make sure you get your bonuses.  Please let us know how else we can help. 

Special note to every Superintendent on the UP who instructs their managers to harass or intimidate the troops:  Today you are the big guy, tomorrow you are just another poor dumb unemployed jerk.  We union folks out here will always have a job.  Will you?   Probably not. 
I remember the guy who said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

It’s too late, I think.   You lose.