July, 2001

From the Shredder Room…

(Every once in a while our intrepid spies in Omaha uncover a real gem.-Ed.)

From: Ike
To: Dick, c/o Omaha Cold Storage, Inc.

Dick, you did a great job at the Senate subcommittee hearing in May.  Why these Surface Transportation Board jerks continue to question our management strategy is beyond me, especially since we coughed up a lot of bread to buy them off. We even sent our flagship train—that’s the one with the really big wheels—to Los Angeles so we could entertain Cheney and Vice President Bush.
You know, if we had a stick of track in West Virginia, I’d give the order to rip it up right now, and damn our friends in the Republican Party.  Remind me to put Governor Rockefeller on our “enemies list.”  That brings up my next point.  We need a plan to improve our image. Our constant barrage of phony publicity is only effective on our #1 customer—the inane middle managers we’ve rescued from oblivion at real companies. But that rubbish about us not telling our shippers how much we’ll charge them to haul toaster ovens and martini glasses from point A to point B really frosts my balls.  As a matter of fact, I disguised my voice and called up our service center about six months ago, and when they get around to returning my call I’m sure I’ll have a great freight rate.  Do you think our competition can do better?
So, what’s with our critics?  They’re attacking us from every angle. Sadly, most of the damage seems to come from our own ranks, which is why we must hire, train, and cut off new employees more efficiently.  We really need to get our new hires from the bottom of the food chain, and that applies to management as well. I still like my idea about using our employees as collateral for new locomotives.   My pals at the Bonfire-of-the-Vanities Country Club, the mostly all-white place I’ve told you about, think that’s a great idea.
Back to my main point, we should get Cheney to sponsor federal legislation to make it a felony when anyone fails to show the proper respect for our logo.  That includes anyone who sports a UP bumper sticker on a vehicle, plays with model trains, or engages in any manner of thought which could be construed as an assault on our company, its colors, logo, including but not limited to any facsimile, reproduction, draft, comic book, film or digital photograph, toilet paper or cocktail napkin doodle.  And I really like the idea of thought crime, too. I want to see something about that in the next UP rulebook.  Think of it: new hires can begin service with a strike against them before showing up to work.
And what’s this about prohibiting crews from alighting from moving equipment?  Didn’t we have them doing something different a while back?  More to the point, I didn’t realize we still had employees on freight trains.  What happened with our plans to automate the railroad?  Anyway, I think the solution should be that 50% of the crews alight from moving equipment, and the other 50% should not.  I tell you, my experience building rocket-powered toaster ovens comes in handy at least once a day.
To close on a related note, I understand that Roseville continues to not meet our fake efficiency goals.  It’s time to show Shudak the door.  Have someone remind him to remove his tie before he uses the knife. 

We Get Letters, Part 1
Working the Conductor's Extra Board, I did call the UP Help Number with regards to work/rest problems that was in the AM/PM Brochure.  I was given Dennis Holland's phone number (402-271-4155) and told him how exhausted I was with being called on my rest.  I asked him what can he do for me. His response was a lot of words telling me about the complexity of the problem, the long standing problems with an industry that's 150 years old, etc. - outright verbal fakery!  I simply said that I had worked almost 30 years as a conductor and the schedule was killing me.  I asked what's the purpose of the AM/PM Brochure if he's unwilling to help me.  Dr. Holland said that I'm lucky to be aware of my serious chronic fatigue problem "that the AM/PM Brochure is try and reach out to those who don't know that they have a health problem".
 If you're confused and tired, please call Dr. Dennis Holland in Omaha for sleep therapy. Please be advised that he only works from 8 to 5.  Daylight hours - five days a week.

J. J. Sheridan, Eugene, OR

Editor’s Corner: Cans of Worms

I’m getting word that our brothers and sisters in the shop crafts have put a crimp in Uncle Pete’s operation in North Platte. Seems the carrier won’t bargain in good faith (what a surprise) and so the shop folks have decided to give them their money’s worth.  Follow all rules, 100% compliance with FRA regs, do it right.  In their normal humanitarian fashion, UP’s dysfunctional Labor Relations department goes to court (sound familiar?) to solve a problem they can’t.  Bottom line?  UP is running scared by these actions, because sooner or later this kind of thing is going to show up in front of a judge they haven’t bought yet with the sense to say, “Hey, these are YOUR RULES and these are FEDERAL REGULATIONS, so why punish your employees for compliance?”  More to come…The popular and widely circulated COLA petition is still out there nationwide.  If you haven’t seen it, let the editor know via our e-mail and a copy will be forwarded…..UTU/BLE courtship is on again, so stay tuned for the latest chapter in this soap opera.  Best bet:  Start over again with a constitutional convention with NEW delegates….Overnight Trucking employee/stockholders are suing the company’s management for damages caused by their  mishandling of the recent labor disputes there.  An example of big Dick’s attitude toward you. (he’s named as a defendant) ….Our friends at CMS say the new computer system is going on-line shortly after the first of the year.  Didn’t say  what year…In case you might forget, Safety is Numero Uno on the UP, BNSF, NS and other outlaw, out of control carriers.  Right.  The new policies are being implemented as you read this.  Intimidate the hell out of injured employees and blackmail, coerce or otherwise prevent them from reporting injuries.  Hell, no reportables, no problem, right?  Federal and state regulators should look into this ASAP, if they’re not too busy having lunch and schmoozing on the carriers dime.  Write everything down as soon after an incident as you can and call your union guy!  The carriers will send their damage control sleazeballs in and try to cover up any and all truth.  It’s very plain to anyone who has ever had to deal with this kind of thing that all the nations railroads are in on this cover-up and don’t care whether you live or die…Recently seen in Roseville Yard: Managers with spray paint and stencils re-numbering cars in the departure yard.  Who says your list isn’t right?…Snakebites is sponsoring yet another inane contest.  This time we ask our readers for the REAL definition of DP. (No, it doesn’t really mean Distributed Power) Recent entrants include: Dysfunctional Process, Dumb People, Delaying Program, Deadly Push: well, you get the idea.  Send your entries to the editor and if we publish yours, you’ll get 3 days and one night in the basement of the new tower at N. Platte…In the meantime, work safe, follow the rules and look out for each other,


We Get Letters, Part 2

Dear Snake,

Thought you might like to hear how the safety hot line tool is used at Albina.  When a safety issue is reported to the 'hot line' the manager in charge of the area where the issue exists gets pissed off.  He then gets the manager of the person reporting the safety issue to unite with him to impose retribution on the employee(s) reporting the problem.
Now the employee(s) feels the entire issue should be handled by their unnamed Union.  Where upon the managers have a meeting with the Union representative stating that more retribution is in line for the employee(s) reporting the issue in the first place and, by the way, since the union representative was in the room at that instance here is an extra dose of retribution for you as well.
Moral of the story: The safety Hotline 'tool' is not now and never will be used again by the employee(s) group to solve a safety issue. Why did the 'great big blundering railroad' management start the thing in the first place?  Obviously, as a public relations tool, not a tool to address safety problems.

Another shell-shocked employee

Dog Days

Recently a UP Online story featured the unusual rescue of a police dog, which suffered heat stroke while chasing some bad guys off a train in Southern California’s desert area.  The valiant canine was rescued through the combined efforts of UP police, operating and maintenance employees with the assistance of the California Highway Patrol, who supplied the helicopter to airlift the dog to a local hospital.  (Human hospital, that is.)
After heroic efforts by the MDs there he was released to the vets, who said he had a good chance for a full recovery.  We applaud this humane effort, BUT…….This note from one of our LCs.

I have members, along with other locals who have had members who have suffered heat stroke and heat exhaustion that were not transported by helicopter to the hospital. But I can see the difference:

1. The dogs take longer to train than conductors. 

2. They don't have any dogs on the cutoff board, so it would take longer to 
replace them. 

3. Dogs can't read, so they were not sent Union Pacific Publication on Heat 

4. No FELA Attorney's are representing this craft, at this time. 

5. Conductors, you can bark all you want, but unless you’re capable of biting, don't expect a helicopter. 

Wayne Hudgins 
Local Chairman 
UTU Local 1846

Of Special Note…

Southern Pacific Switchman D.D. Berg has decided to retire this month, after 42 years of service here in Roseville. Del has seen a lot of changes around here over the years, some good, some not.  But he has always kept his good humor and has the respect of all who know him.  The editors and staff of Snakebites, as well as all the Roseville Switchmen, Trainmen Engineers and Officers, wish him a happy, healthy and enjoyable retirement.