The LIRR Wreck Crew was regarded in the industry as the best in the nation, perhaps in the world. Excellently equipped, impeccably qualified, the men on the crew had what today is a rare team spirit and talent to get the job done. They would finish in hours what other roads took days to accomplish, and Crew members have traveled worldwide to instruct other roads on their techniques. They weren't highly paid workers. Most were labors, machinists and welders -- craftsmen who worked daily in the car and engine shops. Those working with them in Engineering (Track, Signal, B & B) were equally skilled at quickly putting the road back in service and the interdepartmental cooperation between the men was legendary. The only extra compensation they received for their work on the wreck crew was any overtime pay they made, a little glory and lots of fun.
Author Ruppert expresses disdain that these unwashed masses were paid overtime after a full daily tour of their labors.
Several LIRR presidents in recent years have attempted to utilize outside contractors or other MTA agencies to do some of this work, usually in some "show of force" against certain union protections. Unless a work area can be completely isolated from live tracks, the logistics of outside labor are virtually unworkable, and this has played out again and again in these somewhat failed attempts at point-making.