Al’s Corner – September 2022

Oct 5th Golf, Railroad Strike Avoided

“Queen Elizabeth II” “Hurricane Ian”

Hello everyone, posting the October addition of Al’s Corner a few days early to promote the golf tournament, which is Oct. 5th.

Again, we are heading back to the recently re-opened Quail Creek Golf Club in South County St. Louis. Brad Reinhardt and his merry staff have been hard at work putting together another fantastic event. For $90 you will get eighteen holes of 4-person scramble golf, hole prizes, team prizes, lunch, dinner, drink tickets, and networking. A skins game will be optional. I think we have played there at least ten times over the years, so it is full of memories and fun. A few personal memories from Quail were the “famous van,” and playing with Brad Bates, Scott Wallace, and his playing partner.  Another was the weighted driver I brought out for longest drive, and Michael Tobin (new career at CMIT Solutions who will always be the Life Coach and comedy club owner) and Amy Bea (beautiful, fun lady and greatest realtor in the western STL area!)) providing a fabulous drink tent. For years I have played with my old friend David, and Michelle Thomas. This year I will not, sadly. But a couple of new additions will be my incredible niece Katie and her husband Matt Gilreath (teaches conceal and carry and is also a regional manager for this). Because of his background he was easily, secretly, able to get my wife Kathy, who Brad tries to ban from playing every year, in this event.

Now on to my first monthly topics—Queen Elizabeth II died September 8th, she was 96 years old. Her reign lasted for over 70 years and will not happen anytime soon. King Charles III is now King. The reason I am writing about this is because this something that has not ever happened in my lifetime (anyone’s), the changing of the monarchy. The actual funeral final journey procession, an incredible long walk with her casket, was amazing with everyone walking in step with each other. The pageantry was stunning with the royal guards and military locking arms. This was truly a once in a lifetime occurrence, memory. Tens of thousand of people lined the streets for close to 30 miles paying their last respects, but while also trying to see her casket.  Obviously, I never met her, but she appeared to be an amazing lady, leader.

Railroad Strike Avoided. In mid-September. If this would have happened, it could have been a catastrophe to the economy. This was avoided, for now, in the short-term, but this is a long way from being done as a long-term solution. 

A main issue was Being on Call All the Time-was addressed, some.  This old school agreement in place was brutal. This was an almost 100% service time mandate, around the clock, that the employees had to endure. What I mean is a worker could get called out at 11pm (after a 10-hour break, I believe) to go to work, and had to go in pretty much no matter what. It makes for a very uncertain, inconvenient, hard, lifestyle. What if you were celebrating a birthday, or anniversary, it did not matter.  Being sick was a problem too (limited sick leave too, from what I understand).  I am not an expert on this topic, but I did work for 3 years on the RR as a Carman, and Laborer many years ago and some of this I remember from then.  It has been going on that long.

The Railroads have been Reducing Staff for many years for cost savings in order to increase stock earnings, made the above even worse. The toll on employees by reducing head count, in turn caused the remaining workforce to be even more productive, have even less flexibility in their free time, always being on call, and in demand. Forty years ago, I remember having a Conductor, and Engineer, Brakeman or 2 in the front engine area, and someone in the caboose.  Now, it is an Engineer, and Conductor up front, and no one else on the train. Now some of the Class 1 RR’s want to reduce it to just 1 person soon. To me, it is a little scary to have one person on a train with 100 cars in tow. What if they get sick, or have an emergency?  The use of technology is what the RR’s are counting on, and I hope they know what they are doing, not just about the bottom-line profits?  In 1980 518,000 people worked for Railroads. In 2010 it was down to 216,000 people. Since then, as of 2021 it is 135,000 people working for the biggest Class 1 Railroads (the largest employers). This again, has put the workers that are still there unhappy and under stress. Stay tuned for this issue to rear its ugly head again, down the road and tracks.

Finally, a ferocious Hurricane named Ian hit the last week of September with the eye landing near Ft. Myers.  It appears to have destroyed, and severely damaged a huge amount of Florida.  This storm produced incredible sustained wind gusts, storm water surge, massive flooding, and death sadly.  The damage is a once in a 500-year event, and will it be a long time before things will be back to normal.  In some cases, it may never be.  Our hearts and prayers go out to those effected.

That’s it for another Al’s Corner note. I will end this with a question of how Ian will affect the trucking industry?  Al