Crosstimbers Okie wrote:Thanks for the replies guys. There is plenty of food for thought.
I have a couple of years before I will seriously begin the job search. I plan to retire from my job in the federal prison system in two years at age 50, and am looking forward to starting something new. I'm tired of prisons and tired of thugs. The railroads I've looked at have excellent pay and benefits, and I've been doing shift work for nearly 25 years.
I started out as a young man (age 30) and in excellent physical condition. The work was hot, dirty, LONG, and not for the faint of heart. The days began with me following an old crane around the property loading rail, frogs, package switches, tie plates into and out of high side gons. At age 50 I could still do the job, but I noticed that I wasn't I was not quite
the man I was twenty years before! However, by 50 I had built enough time to bid on less strenuous jobs such as Inventory Clerk, Storehousman, and Stockman. While I DID handle some heavy stuff, it wasn't as regular as it had been. Most of the time I was either pulling orders with a fork lift, or a "caraselle" that literally brought the parts to ME instead of my trudging thru the warehouse pulling out parts off the racks. We do not like to admit that we aren't 30 again! We also don't realize we have gotten "set" in our ways, and, WRT, the railroad, it is not likely a 50 year old man is going to "like" having men twenty years his junior being able to out-bid him for the better assignments, the better jobs. It can cause problems, and I saw this during my career. Older workers who "dovetailed" into our roster and who, thru the prevailing union agreement, had to go to the bottom of the list----oh, you should've heard the hue and cry about those young whippersnappers getting the 7-3:30 shift and THEY
were forced to the 2nd-3rd trick. This is *MY* opinion, not necessarily correct as to what YOU will find, but I would not want to have to start out brand-new at age 50 on the railroad knowing what I know (from experience). Surely, you might not mind the wild hours, or the odd days off (if any), the stress that is inherent in the business. Railroading is NOT for the faint of heart. It has an environment like nothing you have ever seen before, like no civilian job you have ever worked. A person has to be very flexible to adapt to the peculiar railroad ways!
Then there is the retirement system that is unique to the railroads. All that has been explained before. If you have an adequate
retirement, built up thru a state pension + social security, how you approach railroad retirement will greatly affect your total retirement income when you DO retire. If you don't do it right, you could FUBAR your total pension income by going under railroad retirement because, at retirement, you can collect ONE or the OTHER; not both---even tho you worked 20-30 years under SSI, it "rolls" (vesting occurs at 5 years) into railroad retirement and become Tier I under RRB. Normally, railroad retirees retire at age 60 and even if you work until age 67-68 (which may happen anyway eventually), you *may* not accrue enough credits to cause the total compensation to equal what it would have been under SSI. It all can vary.
IF it were ME, I wouldn't do it. YMMV and its all up to you.
OTH, I guess ya gots to work *somewhere*!