|ONLINE VERSION||AUGUST 1999|
|MofW ... Working on the Railroad|
|@ cutline #1 = Assistant Foreman
Gary Adams, Tool Truck, Saw & Drill Teresa Pfaffle.
@ cutline #2 = Teresa Pfaffle, Curtis Clark, Plugger Ops Renee Kerr, Paul Farley.
@ cutline #3 = Rafeal Villegas and Feeder Jimmy Helms
@ cutline #4 = Darlene Wing and Renee Kerr.
@ cutline #5 = Crane Bob Bowers and Saw Man Paul Melton.
@ cutline #6 = Laborers Renee Thomason, A. J. Arndt, Marshal Miller.
@ cutline #7 = Snow conditions didn't stop the work.
This is a letter from BNSF MofW employees, the people who maintain the railroad tracks to keep the trains moving. The people who must leave their loved ones to make a living. Every year, some of us come back from layoff (if we do not have enough seniority to work all year) to have BNSF taking a little more away from MofW, that according to our contract we are clearly entitled to. We are not saying this is not a well-paying job, but pay us what we are entitled to.
Some of us spend the majority of our weekend traveling home to be with loved ones only to turn around and drive long hours back. When we change tie-up points with the gang we are to be paid overtime rate back to job report site if we are on overtime--they are paying us straight time instead. So we have to put in a claim.
At the end of the work season of 1998, BNSF chose to shut down the system gangs early. When RP-12 was shut down, we were one of the top gangs on the system. This action left a lot of employees with little or no seniority and without an income other than unemployment.
Some of us who could still work went to jobs and participated in the laying of steel that was on our steel gangs schedule. There was steel being distressed that was clearly retrained. According to the engineering instructions, the rail should be unrestrained. The labor force in this project was clearly shorthanded. The foreman was running group 5 machinery. The job was clearly short of people, taking three to four times as long to lay this steel. If the steel gang would have been working, the rail would have been properly heated with the rail heater and all done safely.
We went to start up meetings on February 2, 1999. In this meeting we were told we would receive new engineering instructions. Here we are three months into the work year and we do not have our new engineering instructions.
A couple weekends ago our gang moved from Lapine, Oregon to Burney, California. We were entitled to five hours and 15 minutes travel time and the foreman entered the time in the computer. Come the following Monday, the division engineer instructed the roadmaster to have our foreman remove this pay that the people were rightfully entitled to. Now how are these types of actions against the people in the MofW supposed to bring a positive work atmosphere.
Again a claim was submitted; when it will be settled is another story, but why should the people have to wait? They worked, traveled, and are entitled to this pay now, not in a couple months or even years. These gangs come out, do their best to perform their duties safely, and go home.
Also every year they come out with a work schedule for these gangs. The employees look at it, see this gang is going to be by their home, and every year the railroad trades some scheduled work with another gang so we do not end up where we wanted to. For example, they just gave RP-15 some of our gang's (RP-12) work by Sandpoint, Idaho. We have a lot of people from around that area.
Sometimes there are machine delays, sometimes bad weather on top of this. And, due to working in the rain and snow, people get sick. We had six people out of 32 gone due to sickness and vacation the other day. Even under these conditions we were expected to perform like a full crew and meet the railroad's best practice.
We would like to know who comes up with these figures--somebody behind a desk in a climate- controlled room? Out on these tracks there are very seldom perfect days. Such as perfect weather, get the track right away, no machine problems and a full workforce instead of cutting back every year.
A couple years ago they used a tamper on these steel gangs. Now the people tamp them by hand when needed only for a train to run the rail and drop them back down so we at times have to do this process again to satisfy the boss. I hear they just did away with the scar fire on the tie gangs so the people behind have to work harder cleaning the ties off-- this is from the crew of RP-12. This is not a perfect world. We do our jobs safely and professionally and accomplish what the trains and weather allow.
Written by Teresa Pfaffle, representing the members of RP-12: Steve Martin, Gary Adams, Renee Thomason, Tim Kroger, Paul Melton, Victer Stende, Curtis Clark, Duane Fossen, Bob Bowers, Renee Kerr, Jimmy Helms, Dave Gale, Bill Harmon, Tim Graham, Darlene Wing, Paul Farley, George Gomez, Dan Wick, Roger Standley, Jon Taylor, Greg Brown, Ryan Jackson, Darrell Bates, A. J. Arndt, Melvin Mindus, Stanley Siegel, J.C. Noel, Lou Murray, Dave Gonzales, Rafeal Villegas, Randell Jenkins, Marshal Miller, Tom Clement.