Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Railroads Should Establish a Voluntary Furlough Board

My husband's last two weeks on the job were spent with several old heads who were envious that my husband was about to be furloughed. These guys have 30+ years of experience on the job. They've taken very little time off, and have labored year after year, working more hours than most people can imagine. They're at the top of the pay scale and have saved up a lot of money, and have had very little free time to enjoy it. They would actually like a year or two off.

Meanwhile, my husband, who needs the job, just got furloughed. The railroad just spent $80,000 (eighty thousand) dollars training him. It's likely that he'll forget everything he learned before he gets called back to work (IF he gets called back.)

They've furloughed 60 guys in his division. There are several HUNDRED guys with 20+ years of experience working.

So the situation begs this question: Why not call for volunteers from the most experienced guys to accept rotating temporary furloughs? Why not LET old heads (who are tired and want a break) take a break to allow younger guys to gain experience? The old heads are at the TOP of the payscale. While the RR does pay guys with seniority for 8 trips per month while they are furloughed, that would be CHEAPER than having them continue working. Meanwhile, the new trainees could keep working under the supervision of guys with plenty of experience who DON'T want a voluntary furlough. Not every old head would volunteer. But we don't need every old head to volunteer. Just about 60. My husband's trainers would have loved a break. Why not allow guys like that to volunteer to take one?


Sheri said...

I think that's a brilliant idea!! LOL! I bet there are guys here that would want to do the same thing!

Cinderpath said...

Hang in there, I was hired by BNSF in 1997, as soon as I finished I had over 700 trainmen (TY&E) above me furloughed at one point. It was a rough first couple of years. Most left, and it turned out fine for those that hung in there, and did other work, they were later called back and moved up in seniority. I later moved on from the railroad for personal reasons, but hang in there. This economy is hitting all sectors unfortunately.

I wrote an article in Trains Magazine in the September 2002 issue titled "Hard Lessons", it might be of interest to you.

-M. Ross Valentine