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Old 01-23-2008, 09:19 PM   #113
hoydie17
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It's often said in the railroader's world that "They have a rule for everything, and two for nothing."

The problem is, every single rule on the railroad is WIDE open to interpretation. The rules may not specifically state that the conductor or other T&E employee needs to be conscious of railfans and their activities, or anyone else near the tracks. But, a manager looking for a reason to be a dick, can bend the rule to support their objective.

Beyond that, even if a rule is unclear, or vague, the railroad management is generally so inexperienced, or indecisive, that what they say one time will be entirely different fifteen minutes later. Even moreso, if you're on over the road freights, you might pass through "jurisdiction" of several different management personnel, and they all can look at the same rule, and come up with a different interpretation.

For example, on CSX, they have what the "General Rule", if memory serves me correctly it was "Rule G". And this is the catch-all rule, if it's not specifically stated elsewhere in your grip, this rule is the one the management will fall back on to burn your ass.

So if you fail to sit down to tie your shoe and throw your back out by bending over, they can, and likely will use it as justification to fire you. In their eyes, you acted in an unsafe manner when you could have sat down in a chair to tie your shoe and possibly prevent the injury.

Now as a railfan or otherwise uninitiated you can say how "unfair" it is, and that there may or may not be recourse. This is true to an extent, however, for railroads that have union membership, it can take several weeks or even months for an investigation to be held and subsequently overturned with sharp representation. Never mind that during this time, the person in question is quite possibly living without a paycheck, unless they have out of service coverage or job insurance. Because in most cases, they don't get backpay for missed starts. On the non-union outfits, well, you maybe looking for a new career, period.

And as a side note, the fact that they got fired, doesn't go away, even if it's overturned in an investigation hearing. That stuff all gets tucked away nicely in a computer system somewhere, and the railroad can and will bring it out to haunt you later. I know trainmaster in Brunswick, MD that kept hard copy files on all of his employees and even if the investigation committee ordered the charges dropped and expunged. He still kept them as part of HIS personal files and while it's probably illegal somewhere, who's going to challenge him?

So that being said, I personally can't hold it against Burner or any other railroad employee that calls in a railfan for taking their photo, public property or not. Because in the rather unlikely event something bad were to happen, management types WILL be looking for scapegoats, someone they can place blame upon other than themselves. And if they even suspect that there was what they can broadly interpret as a rules violation, someone will get fired. They maybe back a few weeks later, but be that as it may, they still have to figure out how to make it through their suspension without a paycheck.

This doesn't mean I condone railroaders' breaking the rules intentionally, or even unwittingly, because ignorance of the rules is no excuse for breaking them. But this job is their livelihood, it's our hobby. . . .
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Last edited by hoydie17; 01-23-2008 at 09:25 PM.
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