Nov 11, 2006
Does anyone know what percent you make during training?
From an earlier post.....
Kevin D Mumaw
TrainBoard Member Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Cheney (Spokane), WA
BNSF pays a basic day of $135/16hr during training for up to 48 working hours a week. After 48 hours you do get time and a half ($25). BUT only time doing on the job training is eligable for OT, class time does not count so in one week you could work 48 hours OJT and 8 in the class for a total of 56 but you would not get OT for the last 8 hours becauce of the class time, you will get paid for all 56 but just no OT.
Once out of class there is 80% pay for certin jobs, just as a helper on a switch job or a brakeman. It does go up 5% a year though so after 4 you would get full pay for those jobs.
What Kevin sez is correct, and if you are called to work as conductor,
you get full 100% pay. The UTU has been negotiating to strike that
tiered salary nonsense. That is the carriers baby. They know the attrition rate is high during the first 5 years so they want to keep the
pay low for that period. The last national UTU contract expired 12/31/04. We have been without one since. The longer the carriers can
keep the negotiating going, the more money they will save on contracted salary increases. Fortunately periodic C.O.L.A. increases were negotiated into the contract to cover this contingency.
"They use us, then abuse us!" it is SOOOOO true!
Seems to me if the pay was 100% from the start there would be less attrition!
Maybe not much, but some is better then what they got now.
Didnt' get any last time(mebbe about a month). Don't expect the troops will get any this time around either.
Not really, the attrition rate has been relatively high since Noah was
a switchman. The working conditions are what gets to most people.
Railroading is not a people friendly,family friendly occupation. Some people have a deeper threshold of pain so they can stick it out longer.
Some folks are numbstruck, those are the ones who stay to retirement.
When you are riding a shove into a siding to pick up the rest of your
train, it is in a blinding snowstorm,you cant see more than 20' ahead of
you, you are hanging on bravely while also carrying a lantern and a radio and trying to communicate with your engineer , you start getting
strong ideas about why you are doing what you are doing. You also seriously consider other occupations should you survive this day. Remember the job of brakeman. That was the fool that rode ON TOP of
box cars, ON THE OUTSIDE OF THEM, and had to walk a foot wide wooden walkway on the top of the cars and manually apply brakes when the engineer whistled for them. They did this regardless of weather. The job still exists. If you dont think you are a brakemen, you can be certain your conductor and/or engineer will make you aware of
what your position in the crew is and what your duties are! LOL
Attrition has been so high in Spokane this year they inflated the swithmans extra board so everyone that got hired here could come back. At one point there was aborund 30 guys forced out of town. That is the major reason they lost 17-19 new hires from this year alone, and they only hired around 50. So that is something like a third of the peple they trained.
We have had that happen a number of times in past years. I recall in
2000/2001 (?) we had hired about 32 new switchmen , they trained at Eola,their training schedules were staggered but the classes all "hit the ground" at about the same time. No sooner had they taken their qualifying exams,that they were furloughed. ALL 32 OF 'EM! When the recall finally came several months later, the carrier got less than half of them back, PLUS, they had to requalify on some jobs. What a horrendous waste of time and money; the carrier will waste it that way
but God forbid they agree to a raise on contract negotiations.
Story... A RR buddy of mine, a young conductor from Cheyenne,who had been raised in this area(Berwyn, IL) came to Chicago several times
when he was cut loose in CYS. He could have gone to a couple of other places, but he got to know most of the guys in Chicago and he
still has relatives here. I worked with his father on an afternoon METRA
commuter job, when the dad had been "cut loose" from a reserve board he was on in Cheyenne. Both Dad & Son are active in Boy Scouting so we had a lot to talk about. We also all have the same 1st name(Charles). When Dad was working with me on the "dinky", he would ask me to back the train into the yard when the job tied up at night. It was the responsibility of his position, but he got the s**t scared outta him the first night when the hogger "smoked" the train into the yard. This was just the M.O. that the hogger used. He had complete control of the train,he just came in "hot". We parked our train on top of another train tied up at the east end of the yard track. Dad thought we were gonna run right into it. LOL
Tales from the land of the "west wind"!!!!
Thank you for all the response! I am tring to get on with the BNSF in Longview TX. It is all very confusing from all the different views you can get from different threads. My second question is about becoming a engineer.......what does that timeframe look like?
It is different everywhere, in Alliance NE it takes about a year.
yeah, about a year sounds right(took me 5), but if I were you, I wouldn't be to very eager to do the engineer program until you had a bit of experience on the ground first.You want to gain some familiarity with the territory. If you dont know what it looks like down on the
ground, you will be at a definite disadvantage when you are called as
a "runner". You will get a new guy conductor who is just as unfamiliar with the territory as you are. That is a recipe for disaster. If you are on a division that hauls mostly coal trains and is "step on" and "step off" you can fake your way through it, but that again is not much railroading. Get a mountain division or a big city terminal area like Chicago or Minneapolis or Seattle etc and you have a whole bunch of
new parameters to deal with. Get some ground experience first, go through the program after you have a couple of years whiskers.
Also know that if you fail the BNSF engine program you are done, you do not go back to being a conductor , you no longer work for BNSF. (Is this true on other RR's as well?) Not trying to scare you just fair warning.
Wow why do they do it that way?
The quick answer, that's the way the training agreement reads. Long answer......I don't know.
Thanks for all the help........i also herd that you need to stay in the yard for like a year or too also.
A quick note that I didn't see; the training pay differs between former AT&SF and BN territories. What Kevin mentioned is former BN territory, on the AT&SF side, you start out at about $700/week and it will increase 2 or 3 times. By the end of the training it's around $1,200 - $1,300/week as far as I can remember.
The 3 most nerve-wracking times I've ever had in my life, and they are
pretty much equal in weight...
1/When I got married
2/When I took my conductors qualifying exam(you MUST score 90% or above on a 300+ question exam)
3/When I took my engineers exams(no less than 90% on rules, which includes air brake & train handling-no less than 90% on mechanical(that was an open book test-no less than 80% on the simulator runs-3 of them-that one I just made!).
If you dont pass the first time , you get a 2nd chance. If you dont pass
the 2nd time, look up the address of your nearest unemployment office.
The same goes for requalifying/recertifying exams. In any given 4 year
period, I had to take exams in 3 of them.(I had both conductor and engineer seniority-I had to requalify in both crafts)on one of those exams a score of NLT 80% was considered passing. The same conditions apply to requalifying/recertifying, dont pass the exams either
time and its ADIOS! Also I needed to take hearing and vision tests to Recert as an engineer.
I do not miss the stress of the exams !