March 2007 —To become a carman and a member of TCU’s Carmen Division, an individual has to learn the ropes as an apprentice. That training counts for all involved—new carman, his or her fellow employees, the employer and the community. Knowing how to do the job right is what keeps everything and everybody safe.
Union carmen take pride in that. So when someone isn’t doing the job right, it’s important to call them on it. Recently at CSX, train crews were finding defects after a particular outside contractor’s non-union employees had finished inspections, reports Carmen Division President and International Vice President Rich Johnson. Members took their concerns about these serious problems to their International Representative, Tom Paris, who reported them to Johnson, who contacted the Federal Railroad Administration.
The FRA sent an inspection team in unannounced: “It became very apparent to us that the concerns raised were in fact legitimate,” an FRA spokesperson told a local newspaper reporter. They found that the contractor’s workers doing the inspections “did not have the proper equipment—they had no wheel gauges, the testing equipment they had was out of date, and not one of the crew had a watch,” reports Johnson.
The FRA inspectors told the contractor to fix the problems. He didn’t. A meeting between the FRA, the contractor and CSX management was held. The contractor decided to quit the inspection business. The FRA reps went to Baldwin yard in Jacksonville, Florida, where over 170 defective cars were found. Repairs were made properly.
All thanks to carmen who take pride in their work.