Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

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hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Thu Oct 20, 2011 1:19 pm

I am 33 years old. I have a wife, two children and a house. I spent some time in the Marine Corps. I am currently a non union Heavy equipment operator and have been with the same company for the past (almost) eight years. I make fifteen bucks an hour. I now have no job security and can't afford my health benifits. Yes, I'm working - but we are living paycheck to paycheck.
I recieved an email today inviting me to a recruiting session for Train Conductor out of Cleveland, ohio. I have read alot of the spuratic, unpredictive lifestyle while working for the RR. I get that. What I want to know is what work will be like out of the Cleveland location.
The session is on 01Nov2011 - what are the subsequent processes if I am selected? From then what is the approx. length of time from the session to completion of training before securing a job?
What is the outlook for this job? Can I expect at least 32-40 hrs/week?
As previously mentioned I am a Heavy Equipment Operator by trade. Once employed as a conductor, can I move to other jobs within the company when/if they become available? Do I have to wait to establish senority?
I am not sure what type the Cleveland location is. In general, Can I expect to return home nightly, every couple days, weekly or what?

Do I need to drive to GA. for the three week training or can I go Greyhound? Do I need a car while i'm there?

Any help would be appreciated.
\
Thanks!

Chuck84
Posts: 73
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:36 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by Chuck84 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:20 pm

Are you hiring on to CSX or NS?
CSX has a 6 week school and 8-22 weeks of OJT.

hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:22 pm

Norfolk Southern

COEN77
Posts: 1777
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:11 am
Location: Richmond, Va

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by COEN77 » Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:56 am

hounddog wrote: The session is on 01Nov2011 - what are the subsequent processes if I am selected? From then what is the approx. length of time from the session to completion of training before securing a job?
What is the outlook for this job? Can I expect at least 32-40 hrs/week?
As previously mentioned I am a Heavy Equipment Operator by trade. Once employed as a conductor, can I move to other jobs within the company when/if they become available? Do I have to wait to establish senority?
I am not sure what type the Cleveland location is. In general, Can I expect to return home nightly, every couple days, weekly or what?

Do I need to drive to GA. for the three week training or can I go Greyhound? Do I need a car while i'm there?

Any help would be appreciated.
\
Thanks!
Since you stated 3 weeks in Georgia it sounds like the NS which they have shorter classroom training then after it's OJT with going back to Atllanta later on for a few more weeks. If rail traffic is good one can expect over 40 hours per week if working the road. Yard jobs will be 40 hours per work. Not sure if the NS has gaurented extra boards. If you work a road job most likely you'll be gone a lot depends on the run it could be 24 hours up to 72 hours. Time at home between runs varies. Yard jobs it's home everyday it is shift work. I'm sure the NS pays for expenses to Georgia wether it's flying or if a person drives they'll pay the milage. One will establish a seniority date the first day. It's a difficult life something you'll have to talk over with the wife. She'll have to be both parents at times just like someone in the military. Transferring to other jobs might be possible depends on the needs of the railroad. Good luck.

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by Gadfly » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:43 pm

hounddog wrote:I am 33 years old. I have a wife, two children and a house. I spent some time in the Marine Corps. I am currently a non union Heavy equipment operator and have been with the same company for the past (almost) eight years. I make fifteen bucks an hour. I now have no job security and can't afford my health benifits. Yes, I'm working - but we are living paycheck to paycheck.
I recieved an email today inviting me to a recruiting session for Train Conductor out of Cleveland, ohio. I have read alot of the spuratic, unpredictive lifestyle while working for the RR. I get that. What I want to know is what work will be like out of the Cleveland location.
The session is on 01Nov2011 - what are the subsequent processes if I am selected? From then what is the approx. length of time from the session to completion of training before securing a job?
What is the outlook for this job? Can I expect at least 32-40 hrs/week?
As previously mentioned I am a Heavy Equipment Operator by trade. Once employed as a conductor, can I move to other jobs within the company when/if they become available? Do I have to wait to establish senority?
I am not sure what type the Cleveland location is. In general, Can I expect to return home nightly, every couple days, weekly or what?

Do I need to drive to GA. for the three week training or can I go Greyhound? Do I need a car while i'm there?

Any help would be appreciated.
\
Thanks!

Liks COEN77 says, this is something you are going to have to want and be willing to sacrifice some things for. It IS an unsettled lifestyle, especially in the first few years. No one can tell you will always have work: it depends on the economic situation, retirements, local work load, even deaths of other workers. You need to assume the worst and be thankful for the best! Assume you WILL be furloughed in the first few years (especially in the first years and especially in T & E service. Be frugal in the first years; don't go out and buy a new Silverado or a new house just because you earned $64,000 the first year. You *may* be furloughed the next year. If you go to work in.....say a traveling gang (Tie, Surfacing, Signal, etc) expect to be gone 4 days per week (Mon-Thur, 10 hours/day 4 days.) Friday is a "travel day" where the gang comes into their home shop, unloads materials, reloads for a Sunday departure) T & E....see COEN77's post.

This thing about "changing jobs" that the public doesn't understand. It is NOT usually a good thing because of "Craft and Scope" rules. Each job, or "craft" is governed by a Union whose"scope and seniority" rules are encompassing. You can't "jump" from one thing to another (example= train to gang to shops to clerks, etc) without LOSING seniority in craft. I won't say it CAN'T be done, but when you arrive on property you will learn how it works. Generally, you would LOSE your seniority, except under some strict circumstances in the "old" craft, and be starting all over again in the new one. Lots to consider, but *usually* it is not a good idea.

At the end of your training/class, you will report to your assigned district where you will "mark up" on the roster--usually on the "Extra Board". This is just what it says: you are working "extra" assignments as needed, filling in for mark-offs, sicks, personal leaves and so forth. You will be "on call" 24/7, or required to "be in place for call" at certain established times. You can forget about weekends, most holidays or a whole lot of family time. You will miss kids' ball games, birthdays, weekend events. You will become accustomed, but your life will be controlled by the railroad! (We used to sing "St. Peter, Doncha call me, cuz I cain't go---ah owe my soul to the Southern Railroad!") :(

There'll be hard times and good times. There'll be stressful times and the hours will seem long. Overall, IF you can stick it out, you will make a GOOD living and a decent retirement. It is tough, I won't kid you, but *I*, for one, MADE it, and am enjoying my waning years! Lots of memories both bad and good, some downright funny (it wasn't funny when it was happening!). Gud luck! :)

Gadfly
retired Norfolk Southern

hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:01 pm

How does unemployment work when your with a union?

Here's the thing - I've already learned the hard way. I've lost one house and had to "give back" my shiny new truck because I lost my cooshy city job. We were fortunate (in one aspect) and got an inherentence and paid cash for our house we have now. I know better that to strap on any payments. So, aside from normal bills I/we have no payments. If I'm gonna do something with a career now is the time.
I figure if I will still be eligable for unemployment worst case we can still make it.
Have any of you delt with the Cleveland yard - what type of freight do they deal with? Is it typically a busy yard? What's this furlough thing - just a layoff? What is the "hang test" everybody keeps talking about?

x60pilot
Posts: 135
Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:58 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by x60pilot » Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:54 pm

The hang test is simple.

You do not get unemployment if you are laid off from the railroad. You would get RR unemployment but only after a year, and that is only $50'ish a day. Or are you talking about getting it when you leave your current job?

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by Gadfly » Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:00 pm

Essentially a "furlough" is a layoff. However, you, by virtue of your union membership, keep a "current connection" with the railroad. You are STILL laid off and get no company pay (only RR employment---which aint much), but you "stand for" recall when things get better. They aren't going to hire someone else (scabs) in your
place like a non-union company could. NS used to try to keep doing the annual, seasonal layoff with the clerks and gangs; I don't know about T & E. We *used* to get furloughed every year in December in the Clerks' craft and stay off until March--even May. I worked part-time for an exterminating company in the early years to offset the lost income. Then NS started what they called "NS Quality", etc (propaganda) and they did, at least, try to keep from laying off everybody like they used to. Old habits die hard, tho. As you build seniority, it gets better. It just takes time. There are NO guarantees, and nobody can tell you what a particular yard or facility will be like. It's not like the 'regular' civvie employment where you have certain duties and specific assignments each and every day. Because you are "extra", your job is going be VERY mobile and flexible. Likely you will get the worst assignments and the worst hours. You can't "suck up" to the boss, or politic to get a favored billet; you are first IN and first OUT as you stand on the board. When there are furloughs and abolishments of trains, you get "rolled", or "bumped" and you must place yourself on a position within a specified time. That job you liked? Don't be surprised when you get "bumped"; it will happen a lot at first. Who knows what "Cleveland" or any other yard is like? You will have to experience it for yourself. Like I said, expect the worst and be grateful when it isn't so bad after all. Its just the "roll" (pardon the pun) of the dice! :)

GF

hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:51 pm

Also, what is T&E service?

If I am hired as a conductor - what all can/will the job encompass? I'm assuming it doesn't just mean driving a train from point a to b.

If I can make at least 25-27k the first year I could make it happen.

So, essentially, what your saying is I will be on call 24/7 for any rr job?

This (RR service) is something I've always been interested in - I just don't know a whole lot about it. I hadn't really thought a lot about being a conductor until I seen the job opening. Wifey says as long as it will make me happy she's behind me 100%. To me, it all comes down to making a better living for my family. I just need to make this right in my head because there is NO going back to my current job if I leave it, and there aren't many others out there. I tried the college scene fresh out of the Corps and I hated it - I'd rather put the gloves on and go into something head first and learn how to get it done while on the way. So that route is not an option. I thought that by getting into my current profession - and sticking to it (started as laborer worked up to equip operator), I would be able to Comfortably provide for my family. After 8 years, I'm still barely making it. This SEEMS like the right choice?? Is there something I'm missing??



Thanks for the replys guys!

hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:53 pm

x60pilot wrote:The hang test is simple.

You do not get unemployment if you are laid off from the railroad. You would get RR unemployment but only after a year, and that is only $50'ish a day. Or are you talking about getting it when you leave your current job?

No, I was talking if I got laid off from the RR.

What does the hang test consist of?

COEN77
Posts: 1777
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:11 am
Location: Richmond, Va

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by COEN77 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:22 am

1) T&E stands for Train & Engine Service which is conductors and locomotive engineers.

2) the conductor is in charge of the freight cars that are being hauled in the train. The locomotive engineer is in charge of the locomotive consist. WE don't drive trains it's running trains or pulling/pushing or dragging/shoving. The engineer controls the train but doesn't steer it. A little railroad trivia.

3) I do know on CSX which shouldn't be much difference then the NS a new hire starts at around $40,000 on up. Wages vary there's no set standard. If business is good one makes money and visa versa. Railroad unemployment pays around $66 a day but you need to have at least 20 weeks working during the previous fiscal year which runs from july to july. If one gets furloughed the first year not qualifying for RR unemployment it might be possible to collect state unemployment.

4) If you work the road or on an extra board (road or yard) it'll be on call 24/7.

Seems you've learned already don't make any big purchases in the early years. It's a difficult life but it'll provide for the family needs. Once a person gets some whiskers out there it's a decent living. Just need to get thru the rough spots if it happens. One more bit of advice "SAVE" money for the possibility of down time if a furlough happens. With that there are no gaurentees. Like Gadfly stated some places have seasonal periods where work is slow. You'll learn that if you hire on. Just have to ask questions to the co-workers not HR or management. HR & managements job is to paint a nice picture. Good luck.

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by Gadfly » Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:41 am

COEN77 wrote:1) T&E stands for Train & Engine Service which is conductors and locomotive engineers.

2) the conductor is in charge of the freight cars that are being hauled in the train. The locomotive engineer is in charge of the locomotive consist. WE don't drive trains it's running trains or pulling/pushing or dragging/shoving. The engineer controls the train but doesn't steer it. A little railroad trivia.

3) I do know on CSX which shouldn't be much difference then the NS a new hire starts at around $40,000 on up. Wages vary there's no set standard. If business is good one makes money and visa versa. Railroad unemployment pays around $66 a day but you need to have at least 20 weeks working during the previous fiscal year which runs from july to july. If one gets furloughed the first year not qualifying for RR unemployment it might be possible to collect state unemployment.

4) If you work the road or on an extra board (road or yard) it'll be on call 24/7.

Seems you've learned already don't make any big purchases in the early years. It's a difficult life but it'll provide for the family needs. Once a person gets some whiskers out there it's a decent living. Just need to get thru the rough spots if it happens. One more bit of advice "SAVE" money for the possibility of down time if a furlough happens. With that there are no gaurentees. Like Gadfly stated some places have seasonal periods where work is slow. You'll learn that if you hire on. Just have to ask questions to the co-workers not HR or management. HR & managements job is to paint a nice picture. Good luck.
Hee Hee! I don't know why people think we "DRIVE" trains! You can't "drive" a train! There's no steering wheel: we OPERATE locomotives and handle trains! Driving something implies voluntary, directional control, like horses, wagons, cars, boats, or trucks! :) :)

GF

hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:25 am

Seems a little odd - why would they hire someone on as a conductor first, rather than bringing them on as an engineer initially to learn the ropes.
So, essentially I will only be "running" a train. I'm assuming because of the Union aggreements I wouldn't be allowed to do anything else? (such as helping the engineer couple the cars to assemble the train)

COEN77
Posts: 1777
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:11 am
Location: Richmond, Va

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by COEN77 » Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:03 am

hounddog wrote:Seems a little odd - why would they hire someone on as a conductor first, rather than bringing them on as an engineer initially to learn the ropes.
So, essentially I will only be "running" a train. I'm assuming because of the Union aggreements I wouldn't be allowed to do anything else? (such as helping the engineer couple the cars to assemble the train)
You've got things backwards. The conductors job is to be on the ground to get the freight cars coupled together take off hand brakes couple air hoses even make a brake test if necessary. Everything concerning the freight cars is the conductors responsibility. The engineer only moves on the instructions of the conductor while making up a train in the yard or during set offs/pick ups. The conductor is the engineers eyes on the ground while making a move by radio contact sometimes hand signals. MOST train lengths average 1 to 1 1/2 miles long. The conductor is responsible for making sure the engineer is informed of anything that will affect the movement of the train. In essence a conductor does all the ground pounding work on the train. Some railroads have agreements that eventually a conductor will be forced to become an engineer. It's easier to learn the ropes running as a conductor before becoming an engineer. Once you have the knowledge of what it takes to work the ground an engineer has a better understanding of the moves being made. Besides they are two different crafts under two different union contracts.

hounddog
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Re: Cleveland, Ohio Conductor / recruitment session

Post by hounddog » Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:15 am

COEN77 wrote:
hounddog wrote:Seems a little odd - why would they hire someone on as a conductor first, rather than bringing them on as an engineer initially to learn the ropes.
So, essentially I will only be "running" a train. I'm assuming because of the Union aggreements I wouldn't be allowed to do anything else? (such as helping the engineer couple the cars to assemble the train)
You've got things backwards. The conductors job is to be on the ground to get the freight cars coupled together take off hand brakes couple air hoses even make a brake test if necessary. Everything concerning the freight cars is the conductors responsibility. The engineer only moves on the instructions of the conductor while making up a train in the yard or during set offs/pick ups. The conductor is the engineers eyes on the ground while making a move by radio contact sometimes hand signals. MOST train lengths average 1 to 1 1/2 miles long. The conductor is responsible for making sure the engineer is informed of anything that will affect the movement of the train. In essence a conductor does all the ground pounding work on the train. Some railroads have agreements that eventually a conductor will be forced to become an engineer. It's easier to learn the ropes running as a conductor before becoming an engineer. Once you have the knowledge of what it takes to work the ground an engineer has a better understanding of the moves being made. Besides they are two different crafts under two different union contracts.

So I would help assemble the train, ride with the engineer to the destination, then help unload/ uncouple the cars? Or would I be working strictly at the Cleveland yard?

Also, being on the extraboard could mean working five hours one week and sixty five the next??

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