ISSUE 8 Volume 99 ROSEVILLE CA August 10, 1999
EXCLUSIVE!! FROM THE SHREDDERS IN OMAHA!
CHECK OUT THE LATEST FROM: UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD COMPANY
A message from Ike
Dear Fellow Employee:
Now that we've got our railroad back on track, with declining cost increases
thanks to the hub and spoke agreements, and management has clustered
together to make the UP the best example in the industry by virtue of our
high operating ratio, increasing recrew rates, lower velocity, and declining
profitability, it's time to talk about Value, the importance of value. My
value, your value.
During my twenty years in the toaster business, I've come to realize that
value plays an important role in the career paths of those individuals who
are moving up in a corporation, regardless of the actual state of the
corporation itself. My value, for example, is the product of an elite
education, a wealthy family, access to the corridors of power, a rolodex full
of important names and telephone numbers, and membership in a mostly
whites-only country club. I've also learned that value can be created by
something as trivial as removing one's tie during a meeting with low level UP
employees, so as not to alarm those who have not had access to the kind of
value which has made me the kind of manager who can move from toasters to
railroading with one phone call and a martini.
Value also means that management must listen to the wants and needs of
employees, provided, of course, employees at all levels subordinate their
wants and needs to the goals and directions of the company. In short, value
is a product of worth. When you're out on the railroad doing your job and
following orders--no matter how inane, ill-conceived, or just plain
silly--you're worth something to the company. Thus, you have value.
Our front line managers in Roseville understand this formulation completely.
How else can they explain away the failings and take pride in the
accomplishments of our new hub which may never approach the levels of
productivity previously achieved with antiquated equipment, people of solid
railroad experience, and entirely without managerial hand wringing,
mind-numbing meetings, and reactionary finger-pointing?
Next time you're on duty--if you haven't been laid off as part of our current
program to hire as many new employees as possible--think about your worth to
the company, and your value. Ultimately, your worth adds to my value, and
that value will always be greater than yours, no matter what happens as our
railroad erases its past expertise and moves toward the beginning of a
concept--and its refinement into an idea--about how to approach the cutting
edge at the margin of the blank slate this company has become. That's
something for you to think about when I move on to my next position in
"If at first you don't succeed, redefine success."
Writer, must be experienced. Must be able to write LA and HUB in the same
sentence without pissing anybody off. Salary commensurate with experience.
No applicants so far, but hopeful.
Unless you've been in a coma or working in Portola, you should have received
the employee survey Uncle Pete sent out. Very nice. Asks all the right
questions and is nice enough to give you the right answers, if you can read.
In the interest of fairness and total partiality we offer the following
'Bites survey for your education and entertainment.
1.Are your manager's decisions based on
b) Ass Kissing
e) All of the above
2. The UP wants to:
a) Make money
b) Fire me
c) Hire my kid
d) All of the above
3. UP management cares about my sex life
a) Only when they are screwing me
b) When they figure out my pay
c) Because nobody in Omaha gets any (Except SP transplants, check it out)
d) If they think I'm from Arkansas or Misour, Missosi, Misiru, Oh Hell,
4. My work group is
a) A bunch of ‘60s Stoners
b) Pissed off all the time
c) Looking for a buyout
d) Writing for SNAKEBITES
5. My Sup't. requires all his managers to read:
a) Golf Digest
b) Gentleman's Quarterly
c) UP INFO Magazine
d) Our managers can't read
Essay question. What the hell is a "Work Group?"
Damn! They've pissed me off again!! I've gotta stop letting these stupid
arrogant drones from the UP sewer pond in Nebraska do this to me. As many
of you know, the lying bastards told our new hires that they would be rich
beyond their wildest dreams and could work right here in their own back
yards, or in some cases encouraged them to sell it all and move to where they
were hiring at that time. Once again, UP has made history.
Once, UP was a proud and historical entity (almost as great as SP). But the
recent actions of this cutthroat, chickenshit operation are now just coming
to public light. I was educated in this new history at a recent Union
meeting. New hires showed up and shared their common experiences of
mishandling, misery and downright inhumane treatment they have and continue
to suffer at the hands of the dreaded CMS.
I won't go into a lot of detail, but suffice it to say there are divorces,
bankruptcies, lost homes, foreclosures, dislocations and other major and
minor woes suffered by these folks because they were LIED TO BY THE UP!!!
That's right. LIED TO! The FRA told UP they better work on fixing manpower
and rest issues, so their answer was to hire the hell out of anybody in
sight. Remember, this was to satisfy the government, not because of a
business need. It certainly was needed, for operational purposes, but get
this; UP HIRED YOU GUYS TO MAKE THE FEDS HAPPY! That's all, no other reason.
Now that the FRA and other agencies aren't watching as close (short attention
span), you can count on getting the shaft at every turn. The Union Pacific
Railroad thinks you are just another piece of expendable equipment, folks.
They don't care whether you live or die. Unless you are a stockholder.
Which brings up another issue. What would happen to the stock price if rumors
of labor unrest were circulated?? What would the media do with the stories
of broken families, bankrupt employees waiting for work, depression,
mismanagement, stupidity and hardship on ALL employees? Why hasn't someone
done this yet? WHAT THE HELL ARE WE WAITING FOR? Start talking to your
friends, relatives, neighbors, political leaders, media folks or anyone else
who will listen.
These worthless bastards don't deserve another chance to lie to us, the
government or their stockholders. Get a rope.
"...This is Worker Speaking..."
As nuclear winter descends on the Roseville Hub, we turn our attention
southward, for a glimpse at the next mushroom cloud. You would think that
after the CNW merger and numerous hub cut overs, the management would have
absorbed some learning from their previous mistakes and foibles.
What? You say that no effort has been made to pre-familiarize employees over
new territory prior to the LA Hub cut over? Who's to blame for this? Do we
blame the Unions for believing that the Carrier will honor its agreements to
give adequate familiarization trips to the employees who need them? Do we
blame the superintendents office? CMS? After the Roseville Hub cut over, the
CMS and Dispatching departments were playing "anything goes" with our
collective bargaining agreements.
I know, I know...some of you out there are already thinking it, so lets all
say it together: HOW CAN YOU TELL THE DIFFERENCE? So, on August 16th, the
Carrier has another hub party planned in Los Angeles. Personally, I would
prefer a 6 week root canal procedure.
Editors Note: "We have just received word that two major shippers in Los
Angeles (Hanjin & APL) have gone to the UP and requested that the LA
Agreement NOT be implemented until next year. Apparently, the shippers have
finally waded through the UP's balloon juice. From their observation of
previous hub cut overs, they realize that the implementation of the LA Hub
will drastically affect the Christmas shipping rush, which is due to commence
in September. If this turns out to be true, it will be at least 6-8 more
months before the employees will be faced with the prospect of operating over
unfamiliar territory. You can bet that the Carrier will make absolutely no
effort to qualify folks in advance of the LA Hub implementation. "
The misery that followed the Roseville Hub implementation included employees
being forced to work for the first time on territory totally unfamiliar to
them and in many cases without a pilot. In an UPLIES (aka UPONLINE) post-hub
implementation news article, a high ranking labor relations officer was
quoted as saying that because of the many employees who needed
familiarization trips, the hub implementation was kinda like going to a party
where the rug was being replaced. Good analogy but let me add that the drinks
were flat and, the pretzels were stale.
On another topic, the Union Pacific's "mantra" on their supposed desire to
change management culture has certainly died down. Maybe the change already
occurred, but I missed it. The antonym for Culture is ignorance, and boy, do
we seem to have a lot of that around here. Maybe that's what is wrong with
the UP strategy. They should be trying to change their anti-culture?! (Now
I'm totally lost!).
How long will this nonsense continue? Until the UP runs out of money,
credit, or both. In the meantime, "lets have a reorganization!" What better
way to cover your tracks and involvement in the numerous ill-conceived and
poorly executed operating plans of the past...Yeah and while we're at it, we
need to spend a pile of money on new computers, ‘cuz the"Y2K boogie man" is
going to visit everyone this coming New Year's Day. Without these new
computers, our train velocity will suffer, service to our customers will be
reduced, the ground will open up, and, and, OH NO!! It's amazing to me that
for all the UP computerization, there is still major problems in getting the
various departments of the railroad to communicate with one another.
Cases in point: Has your paycheck ever been right? Have you ever had to wait
more than 20 minutes for a ride to or from your train? How about those train
lists and work orders, anyway???!
Well, enuff said for now. Have a safe OR productive day. I'm off to the shop
to get my Commodore 64 and toaster oven inspected for Y2K compliance.
Yet another top 10 list Dep't.
The top ten ways you know you're working for the Union Pacific.
(Thanks to Bad Order Bob, poet laureate of Ozol)
10. The sound of flat spots hammering down the main line with each passing
9. Pins that refuse to fall during coupling or stay up while switching.
8. The work order has someone else's work on it.
7. Your next signal is around a curve or behind a tree.
6. Your pay check is never correct.
5. Your wages are half of what they were for SP.
4. The person on the other end of the phone line is bitter and pissed off.
3. Your conductor has a seniority date under 100 days.
2. Most frequent answer heard on the phones, "The voice mail is full."
1. And the number one reason you know you're working for the UP is:
Safety is your responsibility and not the UP's.
WE GET LETTERS DEP'T
I read Snakebites too! I get a chuckle and chagrin too. I am only just
married to a recently merged and marred railroader from SP to UP. I too have
my complaints, which include "No life cause I'm a railroad wife", relocating,
then re-relocating; goodby parents, kids, friends, jobs, more friends,
career...How about 2 years of seeing your husband every twenty days...Do I
get time off for good behavior? You know I used the think life sucks...Then I
married the railroad. Its saving grace...some mighty fine people who work for
Keep up the good work, don't let em bring you down..
WTW (Well TRAINED Wife)
THEY GET LETTERS, TOO DEPT.
A LETTER TO THE UPRR
Your stupidity continues. Are you ever going to understand that we are the
ones that can make or break you? You hire these moron managers to harass and
intimidate the operating employees, which only succeeds in pissing us off.
You pump these morons up into a frenzy and send them out to get test
failures, when common sense would tell you that education not discipline is
the key to rules compliance. We are tired. Our patience is being tested. We
are carrying your asses. Without our help you are never going to be in the
top 100 of the Fortune 500 US companies. Hell, your way down the list of
railroads, and there are only 4 or 5.
You've agreed upon a relaxed version of the Upgrade Policy, only to
circumvent it with loopholes. "Got to have a Level 3" one manager bragged to
me! What kind of employee relations is that? I wonder if major companies like
Hewlett Packard treat their employees in this manner.
Your Website brags of a company where Employees are proud to work, frankly, I
am embarrassed to work for you!!! Your policy of empowerment is bullshit!
Either you are not in touch with what is really going on out in the field, or
you are liars. Your managers don't even introduce themselves to the employees
before gnawing on them. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night, working as one
of your managers and treating employees in the manner you promote. What kind
of special person does it take to do this job? Where is your focus? When
problems occur you start with accusations first. Why are you worrying about
catching an employee sleeping, and not trying to figure out why his yard
engine hasn't moved in 4 hours. Blame is the name of the game around here.
Well, look in the mirror pardner! Of course, it is possible that your mirror
is to embarrassed to look back.
I have been witnessing good conscientious employees begin lose that special
quality that makes them who they are, because of harassment, intimidation and
You lose the backbone of your company and you lose your company!
We have now broken down the age group of injuries and fatalities in the
company and surprise, surprise, the backbone of the company for the last 25
years, the ones who aren't allowed to lay off, the ones being called out on
their rest, the ones that are harassed, intimidated, and bird dogged, are now
the focus of the Red Zone blame game. What the hell does it mean? -
Identification, Communication, and Behavior Assessments.Cutting through the
bullshit it means Levels 4s and 5s, rather than; adjustments of work
schedules, train scheduling, rest without payroll penalties, or a friendly,
relaxed atmosphere to work in.
The tone for your attitude towards your employees is set in your motto;
SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! Have you no responsibility for your employees
safety? Is it all on us? Is this why it takes an act of God to get repairs
done to yard engines that have been reported for weeks? Is this why the FRA
and PUC have to breathe down your necks to help protect our lives from your
safety irresponsibility? What kind of example are you leading us by? The rest
of the world understands that education is the answer to safety. How can you
It is time, Mr. UPRR, for you to buy a new mirror and start looking into it.
Only when you really see yourself as you are, will you ever be able to make
the changes needed to make this a good company. Maybe then some of us can
start feeling proud of the place we work.
INFORMATION YOU CAN USE DEP'T
Recently, UP mailed a letter to all employees from Executive Vice President
Operations Dennis Duffy that notified us of their new MANAGERIAL
CONDUCT-SUPPLEMENTAL REVIEW PROCESS. If you, like me, gave it a summary
glance and then threw it in the trash as more propaganda, you should probably
dig it out. This, Brothers and Sisters, is a tool that we can use to weed out
the culls among the officer ranks.
How it works.
If an officer tells you to violate a rule or gets angry or many of the other
reprehensible behaviors displayed by some of our more dominant goons, you
should report the facts to your local chairman who will then notify the
Superintendent. The Super must then convene an investigation at which
discipline may be assessed. The Super has 30 days to report the results to
you. If discipline is assessed, a notation describing such will be placed in
the officer's personal record.
Please note that employees may be required to testify or participate at the
investigation but will not be disciplined or subject to any retaliation. (At
least not immediately)
How you can work it
Survey your work group (now where'd I get that goofy term?) to determine
which manager should be the focus of corrective action for the month.
Everyone should then keep a close watch on the target for any signs of
inhumane activities. Report each occurrence to your griever who will then
notify the Boss.
One of three things will happen. 1) Nothing will happen. 2) An investigation
in which the incident gets whitewashed. 3) An investigation and discipline.
In result 1), the Superintendent will eventually get hammered for not
complying with the policy and will be forced to start investigating
complaints. Result 2) will have the same effect on the Super if there are
lots of complaints on one manager and no discipline. Of course, result 3)
will achieve the desired effect of not only correcting the officer's behavior
but will have a ripple out effect on all the others.
If we use this tool effectively and the Carrier follows through as they
stated, we can actually turn this railroad around to where we have good,
competent managers which in turn will make for a optimistic, motivated
workforce which will increase production and loyalty. (Hopefully)
As you may have noticed by now we have expanded Snakebites to six pages.
This is because the UP and their ongoing soap opera have provided so much
material we haven't been able to keep up with it.
Within the next few months we are going online with the electronic version
and will expand our editorial scope even further. The UP could stop all this,
of course, by simply running a good railroad. Our future is assured.
RULES TESTING, PART 1
A Carrier officer will approach you and request that you instruct the
engineer via radio to make a reverse movement. The Carrier officer will
specifically tell you that this is a test and that you are not to give the
engineer any car count.
‘SP 1234, MTO Peckerhead Pudslinger wants me to give you a back up signal and
not give you any car counts cuz this is a test, so back'em up, over.'
You have not been dishonest, immoral or deceitful, unlike some carrier
officers. Hey, we do have to give the stUPid SOME credit! They have sure
provided the entertainment!
StUPid is as stUPid does Dept
Observers have noted that, in spite of universal education, we are
increasingly becoming an illiterate society. Unfortunately this trend seems
to have extended to the Union Pacific management. Those post cards that
appear in our "crew pac"designed for reporting near misses are laudable but
anyone with an ounce of common sense knows you do not publish your name,
address and social security number for any jerk to see. Yet, this post card
has blanks asking for just that information. My recommendation, if you choose
to fill the card out, leave the SSA number off. Better yet use the 800 number.
A notice that is appearing in some Renzenberger vans sports the UP logo and
states; "Per instructions of UP management radio's must remain on at all
times." What's with the apostrophe? In this sense the radio possess nothing.
Why even an "s"? Do they mean while the driver is in his house asleep the
radio is supposed to be on? Don't they mean to say monitor the radio when on
company business? Those so-called Conductor Reports (Form 20849) are supposed
to keep the conductor awake but if we are going to spend time on these things
maybe more thought should have gone into them before a million of them were
printed. In the first place they are not reports. They are logs.
The person who designed this form didn't provide a place for a train detail.
The size and makeup of trains often have an effect on delay and is pertinent.
Since the log presumably belongs to one conductor, it is not necessary for
the conductor to put his name on each page. Once on the cover of the book
would suffice. Duh! The form is divided into 4 columns. Only 3 would suffice.
They should be (1) time,(2) Location, (3) event.
Filled out in that manner would give a clear portrait of the trip. I am still
undecided as to whether these things are a waste of time or a good idea. In
the past when the company has kept a record of things like the engine
telemetry and tape recorders on crew dispatcher's phones they were maintained
to screw the men. However they only served to help them showing, for example,
engineers were doing the best they can with poor equipment and people were
taking their calls but that the crew dispatchers were not making calls
properly. Who knows what these hings will prove? Oh, yes. What is the
difference between a report and a log? A report is an account with
conclusions. A log is a register of events in sequence with no conclusions or
opinions. A TDD transmission, signal aspect or sitting for 10 minutes in
front of a red signal because the dispatchers outside smoking and won't
answer his radio are all events that are logged.
The now obsolete initial terminal air test report form 25021 (rev.8-86) has
air test run together as one word in the title. This form is superseded by
(Rev. 5-97) and needs to be sent to the dumpster. It is still widely in use
even though it would fail any federal inspection since it does not have
places for required information.
While none of these things are in themselves overly important they paint a
picture of something less than a well-run operation.
There's gotta be more but I haven't found it yet!
Last issue we asked for input on "What I'll miss about the old Roseville
You guys haven't sent anything in yet. You wanna hear what I have to say??
You won't like it , so send me something.
Dumb-Assed Switchman of the Month Award:
To Vice-General Chairman Norm Lucas, who is on our extra board and went to
Omaha anyway. He is still uninformed as to what a trim job does. Jeez! The
traditional award of fifteen cheeseburgers or a chance to go to the rehab
program in Utah is yours, brother. Congratulations!!
RED ZONE ahead!!!
Hey, Carl, 56% of employees and 46% of accidents, that's not bad, that's
good! Of course, that means 44% of employees have 54% of the accidents, not
so good. Aren't numbers fun?
Hey, Punky. Welcome aboard and good luck, pal. You're gonna need it!
SNAKEBITES is published by the Roseville switchmen as a public nuisance. This
publication is sporadic and predicting an accurate U.P. train line-up is much
easier than forcasting when the next issue will arrive. If you should take
offense at anything written herein, you are probably trying to hard to climb
the corporate ladder. Compliments, complaints, money, articles and ideas
should be sent to our literary agent and editor of propaganda:
LEAVE A COPY ON THE ENGINE FOR THE NEXT CREW!!
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