Pros: good benefits
Cons: low pay, dangerous, no one cares about you
These are reviews for different roles on a rail grinding crew
General Laborer: You will almost ALWAYS start on nights, if you are on nights your shift is from 6pm - 6am and will do nothing but maintenance work, if you are on days you will be on the operating crew and your shift would be from 5am - 6pm (This is not a typo, I'll explain later)
General Laborer night crew:
You start your day changing grind stones (about 15-20 pound(s), donut shaped, stones, held together by fiberglass). Changing a stone includes holding the stone with an outreached arm loosening 3 bolts, discarding the used stone, putting a new stone on, threading the 3 bolts, and tightening them. Sound easy? Not at all, add in a 2 minute expectation (people have been fired for not being able to change a stone fast enough), built up slag on the 3 bolts, an occasional broken stone, and weather. I've changed stones in heat upwards of 100 degrees, pouring rain, snow, i've had to change stones while knee deep in water before. After the stone change you'll proceed to blow grind dust off the machine, change oil, blow grind dust out of the engines air filters, filling the water cars with as much water as you can, you will end up doing anything and everything that needs to be done to maintain the machine and ensure it runs properly for the operations crew. You will even learn how to do electrical work, you don't need any electrical work experience at all. You will have to manually grease the machine, you will ruin your clothing. You'll have to crawl under the machine, on top of the machine in and around the machine. Everything – more... you do will be dangerous. You'll have a quick lunch, 20 minutes (if you're lucky enough to be given a break). The end of your night will be spent cleaning any tools you used, trying to clean yourself a little, and waiting for the supervisors to stop gossiping with one another in the back office so you can get to the hotel and maybe get 6-7 hours of sleep. You'll work 6-7 days a week for 6 weeks, then you'll have 2 weeks off.
No per diem, no respect, low pay (starting wage (as of 2014) $10.00/hour)
General Laborer operations crew:
You'll start your day by doing a brake test, walking up and down the machine making sure the brakes work, picking up derails and wheel chocks. When you get up and grinding, your job would be to keep dust off the machine and change stones when needed. You will get to the machine and start this brake test around 5 am, while the night crew is still cleaning up. Your day will end anywhere between 5-7 pm. You'll end your shift by applying the brakes, cleaning yourself and waiting for the supervisors to stop gossiping so you can get to the hotel and maybe get 5-6 hours of sleep. You'll get about 30-60 minutes for lunch. You'll also man water cannons, shovels and axes as you put out fires created by the machine.
No per diem, no respect, low pay (starting wage (as of 2014) $10.00/hour)
You're trained to operate the machine, but need to be closely supervised. You will sit in a chair for 12-13 hours and stare at rail, moving anywhere between 5 - 11 mph, your bladder will be tested, trying to hold it for 5-6 hours at a time, making sure you don't grind on anything that you shouldn't. If anything goes wrong, YOU are responsible. You will be blamed for everything that happens on the machine. You will only grind when the main operator goes home, the rest of your time you will be treated as a general laborer and you will do all of the work outlined above. If you think you can operate and eat, then you can have lunch.
No per diem, treated a little better than a general laborer, low pay. You'll be given around $.50 - $1.50 raise.
You're someone who the office sees as trustworthy. You will sit in a chair for 12-13 hours and stare at rail, moving anywhere between 5 - 11 mph, your bladder will be tested, trying to hold it for 5-6 hours at a time, making sure you don't grind on anything that you shouldn't. If anything goes wrong, YOU are responsible. You will be blamed for everything that happens on the machine. You will operate most of the time. If you think you can operate and eat, then you can have lunch.
No per diem, treated a little better than an operator 1, low pay. You'll be given around $.25 - $1.00 raise.
Loram recently removed this title, even though we out in the field still use it. NIght lead = General laborer who's trusted with supervising the night crew without any extra pay. You get to decide who does what during the night
No per diem, treated a little better than a general laborer, low pay. You'll be given no raise.
You'll drive around your location setting up hotel rooms, port o potty services, fuel services, you'll gather supplies for the machine, set up flights for people, you'll learn how to do expense reports.
No per diem, treated worse than anyone, low pay. You'll be about $1.00 raise.
Ever since Loram disbanded the Night Lead title, the Assistant Supervisor is supposed to supervise the night crew, but, they usually stay on operations, sit in the back and gossip with the Supervisor all day.
Per diem, treated better than an operator 2, salaried.
Supervisors get to sit in the rear office all day, make sure the rail gets greased with the auto rail greaser, and they tend to any office business that "needs" to be done.
Per diem, treated better than anyone, salaried.
Grind dust is worse than breathing in coal. Grind dust consists of bits of rail, rock, and fiberglass. The office tells everyone that there's nothing harmful about breathing it, but they always try to find new ways to prevent us from breathing it. It's also semi-radioactive, not at a harmful level, but enough so that most junk yards won't take them.
You are disposable, everyone on the field is.
If you get hurt, Loram will "Find" a rule and say you broke it, so you're faced with losing your job, or just dealing with your injury.
Loram is a penny-pinching company, you will get the cheapest flights and the cheapest hotels.
Loram justifies the low pay by reminding you they pay for your flights and your hotels
Loram will hire anyone. The quitting rate for the first 3 months is over 90%. So they're almost always hiring.
Benefits are good, full health and dental, 401k is 110% match no caps.
People in the office will treat you horrifically, they will make sure you know you're disposable. Even though, without you, they wouldn't have a job. They think they know best, but most of them have never worked on the field.
You will get to travel, but you won't have any time for sightseeing.
Not a job for a family man, this job has destroy many relationships.
Almost every machine runs differently, these experiences may differ. But i doubt it.
I'm 19 years old, I couldn't afford college, and couldn't get a full time job anywhere else (not very many people will hire a 19 year old with no college experience), i'm technically homeless but this job keeps money in my pocket. I've been working here for a little over 6 months now, I'm an operator 1, I've passed all the exams to be an operator 2 but loram refused my promotion on the grounds of me being too "inexperienced".
They sent me a letter during christmas time, stating that they're pleased to have me and how they wanted to give me a little something for my hard work. They gave me a bonus of $0. For a company that pinches as many pennies as they can, they still decided to send me a letter stating I'll be receiving a bonus of $0. This is 1 of many examples of how the office doesn't care about the field employees.
I wasn't expecting a bonus, I know I haven't worked there long enough to be eligible for one, but this letter is just a slap in the face for someone who's given 6 months of his life to a company.
The crews will become like family. – less