Posts Tagged ‘Railroad workers’

Foote Calls for New View of Workplace Culture

May 16, 2022

CSX CEO James Foote wants the railroad industry to rethink its relationship with its workers.

Speaking to the National Rail Shippers Conference last week, Foote said railroads need to discard the adversarial stance they often take with their workers and instead negotiate with them

“Lesson learned,” he said in reference to the difficulties CSX has been having hiring new workers. “People don’t want to work in the railroad business any more. People don’t like to work weekends. People don’t like to work nights. People like to go to their kids’ birthdays. People like to be home for Christmas.”

As Foote spoke about 40 union railroad workers picketed outside.

“We need to fundamentally review and understand the jobs that we offer to our employees,” Foote said.

“And I’ll tell you, it isn’t just about money. There’s been a mindset and a change in the world about what people want from the people they work for, and we need to change. And I’m talking about, primarily, that we need to change for the 85 percent of people who work for me that are in the union.”

Foote attributed the adversarial relationship railroads have with their employees in part to such federal laws as the Railway Labor Act and Federal Employers Liability Act.

Calling changing workplace relationships the biggest transformative change that CSX can make, Foote said his company needs to build better rapport with its workers.

“You sit down with your employees, you negotiate, and you come up with an agreement that’s beneficial to your company, and beneficial to your employees. It’s as simple as that,” Foote said. “That’s what every other business in the world does, and we need to put our big-boy pants on and get back into the negotiating arena.”

One complication to this is the fact that railroads negotiate with unions on an industry-wide basis. Foote suggested CSX might withdraw from those talks and work out contracts with unions on its own.

The nation’s railroads and it unions are in the third year of talks for a new contract.

However, he also suggested that the entire negotiating process needs to be examined as well.

In the meantime, Foote said CSX is unlikely to reach pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels of staffing until the third quarter of this year.

Before the pandemic, CSX had 7,100 train and engine employees. Like other Class 1 railroads, CSX has blamed freight service issues that were the subject of a recent U.S. Surface Transportation Board hearing on crew shortages.

NS Offering Bonuses to Conductor Hires

February 19, 2022

Bonuses of up to $5,000 are being offered by Norfolk Southern to newly-hired conductor trainees in several “priority” locations including Cincinnati and Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

The bonuses are part of an effort by the Class 1 railroad to fill a shortage of operating employees.

Other priority locations include Binghamton and Buffalo; New York; Louisville, Kentucky; Manassas and Roanoke, Virginia; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Birmingham and Sheffield, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Linwood, North Carolina.

Conductors hired in other locations will receive a $2,500 bonus.

NS said trainees who reach qualification are guaranteed minimum annual pay of $52,000, a figure that increases to $63,500 within four years.

In its recruiting pitch, NS said conductors promoted to locomotive engineer earn a minimum pay of about $94,000 with many NS engineers pulling down more than $100,000 annually.

Rail Workers With COVID-19 Sets Record

January 8, 2022

Using data from the Federal Railroad Administration, Trains magazine reported this week on its website that the number of railroad workers infected with COVID-19 has reached its highest point of the pandemic.

That occurred for the week ending Jan. 1, eclipsing a mark set for the week ending Jan. 9, 2021.

The Trains report said 2,171 railroad workers had contracted COVID-19 while 2,551 were in quarantine after being exposed to the virus.

The figures include Class 1 and short line railroads as well as Amtrak and commuter railroads.

Class 1 Employment Down 0.02% in May

June 24, 2021

Class I railroads employed 115,508 workers in mid-May, a 0.02 percent increase from April’s level but down 2.84 percent year over year.

U.S. Surface Transportation Board statistics show that four of six employment categories posted gains between mid-April and mid-May.

Maintenance of way and structures was up 0.55 percent to 28,690 workers; transportation (train and engine), was up 0.2 percent to 47,044; executives, officials and staff assistants, was up 0.17 percent to 7,278; and transportation (other than train and engine), was up 0.13 percent to 4,721.

Showing declines were maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.91 percent to 17,733 workers; and professional and administrative, down 0.83 percent to 10,042.

On a year-over-year comparison, only transportation (train and engine) posted an increase. That category rose 7.75 percent.

Showing declines were maintenance of equipment and stores, down 16.7 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), down 9.32 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 5.95 percent; professional and administrative, down 5.21 percent; and executives, officials and staff assistants down 4.56 percent.

Class 1 Rail Employment Up in March

April 21, 2021

U.S. Class 1 railroads employed 115,003 people in mid-March, a gain of 0.82 percent from mid-February but down 10.06 percent compared to the same period in 2020.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said four of six employment categories saw increases in March compared with February’s level.

They were maintenance of way and structures, up 1.46 percent to 28,356 workers; transportation (train and engine), up 1.33 percent to 46,404; transportation (other than train and engine), up 0.36 percent to 4,767; and executives, officials and staff assistance, up 0.14 percent to 7,276.

Posting losses were maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.52 percent to 18,021 workers, and professional and administration, down 0.16 percent to 10,179.

On a year-over-year comparison, all categories had declines.

These included maintenance of equipment and stores, down 18.32 percent; transportation (train and engine), down 10.42 percent; transportation (train and engine), down 10.16 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 6.67 percent; professional and administrative, down 5.28 percent; and executives, officials and staff assistants, down 3.86 percent.

Class 1 Rail Employment Up Slightly in February

April 1, 2021

Employment at Class 1 railroads in the United Stated ticked upward slightly in mid February.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said the carriers employed 114,068, an increase of 0.53 percent over mid January.

However, the February 2021 figure was down 10.63 percent compared with the same month in 2020.

Four of six employment categories saw gains in February compared with January’s level.

They were maintenance of way and structures, up 1.19 percent to 27,948 workers; transportation (train and engine), up 0.6 percent to 45,794; transportation (other than train and engine), up 0.53 percent to 4,750; and maintenance of equipment and stores, up 0.17 percent to 18,115.

Categories that lost workers on a month-over-month  comparison included executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.37 percent to 7,266 employees, and professional and administrative, down 0.23 percent to 10,195.

On a year-over year comparison, all categories posted declines.

They were maintenance of equipment and stores, down 18.29 percent; transportation (train and engine), down 10.99 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), down 10.65 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 7.77 percent; professional and administrative, down 5.75 percent; and executives, officials and staff assistants, down 4.09 percent.

Class 1 Employment Up 2.44% in December

January 21, 2021

Employment at U.S. Class 1 railroads rose 2.44 percent last month when compared with November.

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said the railroads employed 117,770 people in mid-December. Although that was an increase over the previous month it was a 10.43 percent decline compared with the same period in 2019.

Posting gains in December over November were transportation (train and engine), which rose 5.67 percent to 49,069 workers; and maintenance of equipment and stores, which rose 2.09 percent to 18,623 workers.

Declines were posted by professionals and administrative, down 0.52 percent to 10,223 employees; maintenance of way and structures, down 0.51 percent to 27,720; transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.12 percent to 4,823; and executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.05 percent to 7,312.

On a year-over-year comparison, all categories had declines.

Maintenance of equipment and stores was down 18.12 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), was down 10.6 percent; maintenance of way and structures, was down 9.94 percent; transportation (train and engine), was down 9.35 percent; professional and administrative, was down 5.44 percent; and executives, officials and staff, was down 4.07 percent.

NS Has Furloughed Dozens in Bellevue

December 4, 2020

The closing of hump yard operations by Norfolk Southern at its Moorman Yard in Bellevue has also resulted in layoffs for dozens of workers in recent months.

Dave Sabo, Bellevue’s economic development director, said he’s been told NS furloughed 22 electricians, 27 machinists and 22 laborers, leaving 10 machinists employed at the yard.

“If that was the case, we feel for those who lost their job or have been laid off indefinitely,” Sabo said.

The Sandusky Register reported that NS would not confirm how many workers in Bellevue had been laid off, but did say there have been staffing changes made there.

Hump operations in Bellevue were suspended in June as a result of the railroad’s shift to the precision scheduled railroading operating model.

PSR favors block swapping over the use of classification yards. Moorman Yard continues to be open as a flat switching facility.

NS at one time employed 700 workers in Bellevue.

NS spokesman Jeff DeGraff told the Register that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated plans to close the hump because of the lower car volumes.

CSX Worker Killed in Fostoria Yard

November 24, 2020

A CSX conducted was killed Sunday morning after a tree fell on his train during a shove move.

Details about the accident are sketchy, but an online report said it occurred at 7:38 a.m.

CSX confirmed in an email statement to The Blade of Toledo that the employee had been killed but did not elaborate on how it happened or name the worker.

The statement did say the death remained under investigation.

The Blade also said that local law enforcement agencies declined to provide information about the accident.

The online report indicated that the tree fell on the conductor, who was riding the rear car during the shove move in the yard. The tree reportedly impaled the worker.

CN CEO Hopeful of Avoding Layoffs

November 20, 2020

Canadian National CEO Jean-Jacques Ruest said he expects his company to avoid employee layoffs unless a surge in cases in the COVID-19 pandemic leads to another drop in freight traffic.

He spoke during an event to mark the 25th anniversary of CN becoming a private company.

“If the economy slows down we might have to have layoffs,” Ruest said.

CN furloughed a significant number of workers during the second quarter when the first wave of the pandemic led to a dramatic plunge in freight volume.

Many of those workers have since been recalled and Ruest said CN probably has more employees than it currently needs to cover for those who become infected with or forced to quarantine because of the virus.