JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (July 31, 2023) – CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers — Transportation Division (SMART-TD) announced they are partnering to extend CSX’s conductor training program to five weeks from the previous four-week regimen to provide new hires with additional hands-on experience prior to beginning on-the-job training (OJT).
The extra week of training at the CSX Training Center in Atlanta will focus on performing tasks in a field setting to increase trainees’ exposure to railcar switching scenarios, radio communication, securement of equipment, brake tests and other fundamentals of the conductor’s role. Hands-on application of these skills begins in the third week of training, and the additional week will reinforce trainees’ comfort level by providing multiple opportunities to perform the tasks while operating on first and second shifts.
“Training is the foundation of the CSX safety culture, and investing in employees is the most fundamental way we can prepare our train crew members for a safe, successful career on the railroad,” said Jamie Boychuk, executive vice president of Operations. “The additional week of new-hire training in Atlanta will help conductors strengthen their skills in preparation for their on-the-job training assignment.”
CSX developed the extended training program in consultation with the SMART-TD, which represents its train crew employees.
“We’re proud to continue working with CSX to improve the training curriculum for new hire trainmen, in the same spirit as we’ve worked together to increase compensation and expand our mentoring partnerships for trainees,” said Jeremy Ferguson, President of SMART-TD. “More training directly translates to better safety for our members and demonstrates our shared commitment to the CSX safety culture.”
After completing their five weeks at the Atlanta Training Center, new conductors begin up to five months of OJT at their hiring location, where they learn the physical characteristics and job assignments of their designated territory.
CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is a premier transportation company. It provides rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services and solutions to customers across a broad array of markets, including energy, industrial, construction, agricultural, and consumer products. For nearly 200 years, CSX has played a critical role in the nation’s economic expansion and industrial development. Its network connects every major metropolitan area in the eastern United States, where nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population resides. It also links more than 240 short-line railroads and more than 70 ocean, river and lake ports with major population centers and farming towns alike.
SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members who work in a variety of different crafts in the transportation industry. These crafts include employees on every Class I railroad, Amtrak, many shortline railroads, bus and mass transit employees and airport personnel. More information about the union is available at www.smart-union.org.
The lack of paid sick time within the railroad industry was highlighted in the media in 2022 when workers rejected a tentative national agreement that covered most railroad carriers and labor organizations, almost leading to a shutdown of the nation’s vital supply chain.
Since then, CSX reached agreements with several non-operating-craft labor organizations. However, CSX and other Class I carriers failed to reach an agreement with any operating-craft labor organization. The operating crafts (which include engineers, conductors and trainmen) have what is perceived as the most demanding of working conditions of the railroad crafts due to the travel requirements, working in the elements and the on-call nature of their positions. This agreement establishes a benefit in the railroad industry that the majority of the American workforce already enjoy.
In addition to paid sick time, the agreement, which covers approximately 2,400 conductors and trainmen on CSX Northern line, also adopts the current attendance policy put in place by CSX into the collective bargaining agreement. Railroads in the past have been reluctant to negotiate attendance and this is another first for the operating workforce as it subjects the former policy (now agreement) to negotiations if any changes are desired by either the carrier or the employees in the future. In return, the carrier gained flexibility and cost savings through provisions that allow conductors and trainmen to drive company-provided vehicles under certain conditions and also settled a long-term dispute between the SMART-TD and CSX regarding assignment placement.
“It’s refreshing and impressive to see the overwhelming support of the membership on this tentative agreement. It is also encouraging that SMART-TD and CSX leadership were able to sit down at the table and reach a consensus on items as important as these. I am hopeful this momentum will carry forward in future negotiations and help us collectively improve the working conditions and overall moral at CSX,” GC Lee said when asked about his overall feelings on the issues and outcome of the process.
Upon the initial announcement of the tentative agreement being reached, SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy, Ferguson said, “We thank CSX CEO Joseph Hinrichs and Executive Vice President Jamie Boychuk for exhibiting flexibility and working with our union in a collaborative manner in reaching this tentative agreement. This serves as a vital first step to giving T&E personnel the paid sick time they deserve, and I am hopeful this accommodation will be soon be extended to the employees working under the jurisdiction of the other General Committees at CSX as well.”
About SMART Transportation Division GO-049
SMART Transportation Division GO-049 (General Committee of Adjustment) is based in Jacksonville, FL. The General Committee negotiates and maintains property agreements for approximately 2,600 railroad employees in the northeastern quadrant of the United States including several short-line carriers and CSX Transportation. GO-049 is one General Committee of 62 that make up SMART-TD, the largest freight railroad labor union in the United States.
Paid sick leave has been the goal of railroaders for decades. It is not only the quality-of-life issue that defines our industry, but also a validation of the dignity of our profession. As you can tell from the photograph attached to this article, we are not the first generation of railroaders who have felt strongly about this topic. For a railroad to function safely, carriers know providing sick days is essential, yet the executives opt to pay themselves huge bonuses and engage in profitable stock buybacks with the money it would take to provide it. Instead of being accommodating to the labor forces toward their basic human needs, management tends to extend their appreciation to those who do the work by handing out hats and trinkets on occasion. To pour salt in the wounds, they have also tightened their attendance policies to unreasonable expectations over the years to force employees, out of duress, to go to work when sick.
On April 3, however, the tentative agreement reached between SMART-TD General Committee GO-049 and CSX is a tremendous step forward for T&E personnel on the CSX Northern Mid-Atlantic District. The tentative agreement synopsis is as follows:
Provides five paid sick with option to convert two personal days to paid sick days.
Unused sick days are converted to cash at the end of the year with the option to defer those payments into a 401(k)
Incorporates the current 2023 CSX Revised Attendance Policy (the most lenient policy at CSX in decades) as a component of the CBA and only subject amendments under the provisions of the Railway Labor Act.
Provides improved work/rest initiatives with the formation of a Joint Labor/Management Committee to implement “Smart Rest” options, which could provide for up to 24 hours off between tours of duty.
Settles a long outstanding issue on displacement and utilization of employees in displaced status
Permits train service employees, when practicable, to drive themselves or their own crew within defined terminal switching limits under limited conditions.
“We thank CSX CEO Joseph Hinrichs and Executive Vice President Jamie Boychuk for exhibiting flexibility and working with our union in a collaborative manner in reaching this tentative agreement,” SMART Transportation Division President Jeremy Ferguson said. “This serves as a vital first step to giving T&E personnel the paid sick time they deserve, and I am hopeful this accommodation will be soon be extended to the employees working under the jurisdiction of the other General Committees at CSX as well.”
As noted in past SMART-TD articles and mainstream media concerning the national rail contract negotiations, labor made it clear to the hedge fund managers who run our country’s rail corporations that we are no longer willing to accept hollow attempts to make us feel like valued members of their Fortune 500 companies. SMART-TD leadership, along with the other 11 rail labor organizations, stated clearly that it was time to address the ridiculous gaps in our work/life balance.
By no means was 2022 the first time that railroad workers have pointed out the lack of sick days as a problem. For years we’ve been told that it doesn’t fit the railroad business model as they sell service to their shippers which requires a 24/7/365 operation to meet demands. The unique dependency on crew availability to keep railroads running has been used to justify carriers’ on-call work cycles and inordinately long workdays, leading to the inability for railroaders to be present for family events and holidays. The irony to the operational necessity is that railroads have reduced their labor head-count year-over-year to increase profits and simply force those left to work more and not allow them to take time off, even when sick.
In 2023, the world’s media has a newfound awareness of the struggles of the railroad work force along with the dangerous working conditions. With wall-to-wall news coverage of derailments and communities waking up to the evils of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), carriers find themselves in the position of needing to prove to the American people that they are not monsters and that their industry is capable of responsibly self-regulating as they have since the 1800s. Through the hard work and persistence of SMART-TD and your activism, railroads have begun to recognize the humanity of their workforce.
In the past two weeks, SMART-TD has seen Norfolk Southernand Union Pacific begin withdrawing their Section 6 notices pursuing single-employee crews. NS has even gone as far as to implement a new plan that, among other things, reduces the length of their trains (for now) to 10,000 feet.
Many interesting questions come from the idea of conductors driving their crews. One is whether CSX will be able to require conductors to pick up other crews while in the company vehicles. The answer to that is a definitive no. If this TA is ratified, the conductor will only be responsible for transporting the members of his/her crew to perform duties associated with that conductor’s train or duties. In short, the conductor position will not be used as additional cab drivers to be dispatched throughout CSX’s yards. According to GO-049 General Chairperson Rick Lee, this proposed change has received positive feedback as our members will be in charge of their safe transport within terminals, thus not left up to a low-cost taxi vendors or disgruntled railroad managers forced to haul crews in addition to their management duties.
Perhaps the most important question from this development is this: If it is, in fact, possible to run a Class I railroad when employees have the “luxury” of being allotted sick days, why has this basic human dignity been held from us by management for so long? If we are doing away with the premise that railroads can’t function if their transportation employees aren’t duty bound to answer the bell every time they are called to work, then why aren’t all railroaders afforded the same treatment across all crafts and carriers?
Progress in the railroad industry has always been incremental, but the fact is that professionals in every other industry, with much more standard schedules and far more time off work, get paid sick leave. Rail workers need and deserve the same.
The new tentative agreement obtained by GO-049 has blazed a trail, poking a hole in the premise that operating crews can’t get sick time. It is precedent-setting that for the first time in the existence of American railroading that paid sick time will be afforded to transportation employees at a Class I railroad. This is a fact that we all need to take a moment to celebrate. But we also need to look at this development as a call to action to achieve paid sick leave for all of us, not just half the crew base in a slice of the country for 1/7th of the Class I carriers.
With matters as important as this one, it is pivotal to get the details correct. If President Ferguson, his administration, or GC Lee’s team was willing to settle for less than what our members deserved on the paid sick leave front, the opportunity was there. But what was important for our brothers and sisters in this historic decision was that we needed to get as much for the members as possible since the negotiation would set a precedent and needed to fit the work lifestyle of our T&E membership. It is hard to overstate the service GC Lee, Vice President Jamie Modesitt, and all others at GO-049 have done for conductors of all carriers with this negotiation. If this agreement is approved, it’ll be a standard-bearing precedent. We must continue the push to be fairly compensated for the essential work we do. Pending the ratification vote, this needs to be the new standard for agreements going forward.
SMART-TD is deeply grateful for GC Lee’s leadership as they have not only made us proud but have also honored the work of the railroaders in the picture featured along with this article and all those men and women upon whose shoulders this union is lifted.
The board, an independent and bipartisan federal agency charged with the economic regulation of various modes of surface transportation, primarily freight rail, announced the meeting April 7 in the light of indications of poor performance data.
“Rail network reliability is essential to the Nation’s economy and is a foremost priority of the Board. In recent weeks, the Board has heard informally from a broad range of stakeholders about inconsistent and unreliable rail service. The Board has also received reports from the Secretary of Agriculture and other stakeholders about the serious impact of these service trends on rail users, particularly with respect to shippers of agricultural and energy products. These reports have been validated by the Board’s weekly rail service performance data.”
Board Chairman Martin Oberman went into additional detail about how job cuts in particular have hampered the carriers.
“I have raised concerns about the primacy Class I railroads have placed on lowering their operating ratios and satisfying their shareholders even at the cost of their customers. Part of that strategy has involved cutting their work force to the bare bones in order to reduce costs,” he said. “Over the last six years, the Class Is collectively have reduced their work force by 29% – that is about 45,000 employees cut from the payrolls.
“In my view, all of this has directly contributed to where we are today – rail users experiencing serious deteriorations in rail service because, on too many parts of their networks, the railroads simply do not have a sufficient number of employees.”
Carriers summoned to appear include BNSF Railway Company, CSX Transportation, Inc., Norfolk Southern Railway Company, and Union Pacific Railroad Company. Executive-level officials from the other three Class Is also were invited to attend, as were labor organizations and shippers.
The hearing will take place at the Board’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., with each session beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Trains.com recently reported that an attorney in Roanoke, Virginia is on a one-man mission to rally CSX shareholders to vote down CEO E. Hunter Harrison’s bid to line his pockets with an extra 84 million dollars as compensation for voluntarily leaving the helm at Canadian Pacific earlier than planned. Read the complete article here.
CSX Corporation announced July 16 second quarter net earnings of $535 million or $0.52 per share. For the second quarter of 2012, CSX earned $512 or $0.49 per share. According to these figures, CSX is up a profit of $23 million over last year’s earnings for the same quarter.
CSX attributes these profits to overall revenue growth, service and efficiency results, and other items such as tax and real estate. Revenue for the second quarter 2013 was a total of almost $3.1 billion. CSX was at an operating income of $963 million and an operating ratio of 68.6% for the quarter.
Operating ratio is a railroad’s operating expenses expressed as a percentage of operating revenue, and is considered by economists to be the basic measure of carrier profitability. The lower the operating ratio, the more efficient the railroad.
CSX is up from last quarter, having reported a net income of $459 million or $0.45 per share. Revenue for the first quarter was at $2.96 billion, quite a bit less than this quarter’s reported $3.1 billion.
Union Pacific Corporation announced July 18 that performance for the second quarter 2013 was the best they have ever reported at a net income of $1.1 billion or $2.37 per diluted share, an increase of five percent over last year’s second quarter earnings. Earnings for the same quarter last year were only $1 billion or $2.10 per diluted share.
UP saw an increase of operating revenue to $5.5 billion, while last year’s operating revenue for the same quarter was only $5.2 billion. The freight revenue was also at a five percent increase and their operating ratio of 65.7 percent was the best ever recorded at 1.3 points higher than the second quarter last year; and 0.9 points better than the previous best-ever record which was set in the third quarter of 2012.
Second quarter earnings are also up from the first quarter of this year. UP reported increased revenue of $5.29 billion for the first quarter, a great deal less than this quarter’s reported $5.5 billion.
Kansas City Southern (KCS) reported July 19 record revenues as well as record carloads for the second quarter 2013. KCS announced that the second quarter was up six percent over the second quarter 2012 with $579 million in revenues. Carloads saw an increase of three percent over last year as well.
The railroad saw an operating income of $179 million, 12 percent higher than the same quarter of the previous year and an operating ratio of 69.0 percent, a 1.5-point improvement.
Revenue growth for the second quarter was led by a 26 percent increase in Energy, a 20 percent increase in Automotive and a 13 percent increase in Intermodal revenues over last year. Revenues from Chemicals & Petroleum and Industrial & Consumer grew by 11 percent and four percent respectively over last year’s second quarter.
KCS saw a decrease in revenues from Agriculture and Minerals, which decline by 18 percent, due to droughts and a decrease in grain volumes.
Canadian National Railway (CN) announced July 22 that profits are up for the second quarter 2013 over the same quarter of 2012. Net income for the second quarter was C$717 million or C$1.69 per diluted share. Net income for the same quarter last year was only C$631 million or C$1.44 per diluted share.
CN reported a net gain of C$13 million that resulted from a gain on a non-monetary transaction with another railway. Excluding this transaction, it’s reported that CN saw an increase of diluted earnings per share (EPS) of 11 percent to C$1.66 for the second quarter. The same quarter last year was at C$1.50.
Revenues saw an increase of five percent to C$2,666 million that was reportedly driven by a five percent increase in revenue ton-miles and a two percent increase in carloadings.
CN reported that operating income increased six percent to C$1,042 million with an operating ratio (defined as operating expenses as a percentage of revenue) improvement of 0.4 of a point to 60.9 percent.
“We executed strongly during the second quarter, with service and operating metrics on a steady improvement trend. This performance underscores our agenda of Operational and Service Excellence, which is key to achieve solid revenue growth at low incremental cost. … Despite slower volume growth than anticipated, the CN team will maintain a keen focus on growing revenues faster than the overall economy as well as on tightly managing costs to meet our full-year financial outlook,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau.
Norfolk Southern (NS) announced Tuesday, July 23 an 11 percent decrease in income for the second quarter 2013. Income was at $465 million for the second quarter of 2013 whereas they were at $524 million for the same quarter of 2012.
Diluted earnings per share were at $1.46, nine percent lower than they were in 2012 at $1.60 per diluted share.
The operating revenues for the railroad came in at $2.8 billion, three percent lower than in 2012. However, the operating ratio came in at 70.2 percent, which is four percent higher than the ratio reported for the second quarter of 2012.
Fuel surcharges came in at $306 million, $59 million less than last year’s reported amounts. General merchandise revenues rose to two percent to $1.6 billion. Coal revenues fell 17 percent to $626 million due to lower average revenue per unit and a four percent decline in volumes. NS reported that Intermodal revenues increased four percent to $588 million and volumes increased five percent due to continued domestic and international growth.
“In the second quarter, Norfolk Southern delivered solid results, supported by growth in our chemicals, intermodal, and automotive businesses, despite continuing weakness in the coal markets,” CEO Wick Moorman state. “We continue to focus on service efficiency and velocity, which is enabling us to control operating expenses and deliver superior performance to our customers.”
Canadian Pacific (CP) reports record highs in operating ratio Wednesday, July 24. The operating ratio came in at 71.9 percent, a 1,060 basis-point improvement and an all-time quarterly record for the railroad.
Operating income came in at C$420 million, an increase over the second quarter of last year by 76 percent.
Total revenues for CP were C$1.5 billion, an increase of ten percent; also a quarterly record. Operating expenses were low at C$1.1 billion, a decrease of four percent. CP reported a net income of C$252 million or C$1.43 per diluted share.
The second quarter of 2012 had a net income of only C$103 million or C$0.60 per share. The second quarter of 2013 had a 138 percent improvement in year-over-year earnings per share.