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BNSF Railway Chairman and CEO Matt Rose
Matt Rose
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  1. 6 people found this helpful  

    You must chose between having a good salary or having a life. You cannot have both at BNSF.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
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    Former Employee - Trainmaster in Belen, NM
    Former Employee - Trainmaster in Belen, NM

    I worked at BNSF Railway full-time (more than an year)


    It is a job, it provides good benefits, the pay is OK. Divide the number of hours you work, without having overtime, and you'll see that it is not as great as management says it is.


    Where to begin...

    Management is not upfront with what it is truly like to be a trainmaster and how difficult it is to deal with their unions.

    There is absolutely no work/life balance. Management advertises that you'll work 3 days on, 3 days off but that never happens. You work at least 13 hrs or more every shift. You have to come on your days off to ops test train crews. You have to work "value-added days," which is basically working for free on your days off. Management does not care if you have to work straight for 30 days, without a single break.

    Management has unrealistic expectations of their employees. You are not an employee, you are a number, a tool to be used for any purpose until you break.

    Management and unions have an aggressive relationship to one another, they are constantly at odds. The unions has a lot of power and they are extremely difficult to work with and manage.

    I have had to work 24hr to 32hr shifts before and be so exhausted that I could barely drive home. Management does not care if you have to work those hours.

    BNSF advertises their generous salaries and people sign up because at face value, it is a good compensation package. However, once you divide your salary over the high amount of hours you work, BNSF does not pay that much because you will not receive overtime.

    About 90% of the people I worked with were either divorced, alcoholics and chain smokers. I honestly don't know how you can raise a family there. Most everybody that I met working there were just miserable people, they were bitter and angry and loved to hate their jobs. To save my marriage and my sanity I quit the job.

    BNSF traps you into staying with the company. Every time they move you (which can be often) they lock you in a contract to pay back the move, which is very expensive. They always recommend you to buy a house and they will buy it back from you when you move. They do that so you are trapped in whatever remote location they place you, where it is difficult to sell your house and you are forced to stay in.

    Management micromanage every aspect of your day and life. Managers have no problems being verbally abusive, shouting at you at the top of their lungs in front of your colleagues. It's common practice there.

    Everybody is so scared of making mistakes that they will blame anything on everyone possible so no blame is assigned to them. No one is willing to help you, it was difficult for them when they arrived and they'll make it a point for you to be given your share of difficulties for being new. It's just the culture.

    Every trainmaster I met had the same goal: to get out of operations quickly and go back to corporate. The positions at corporate are few and far in between and you are competing with thousands of trainmasters for the same position, who are trying to leave the field.

    The people that I see being a fit for BNSF are single, young, military background (culturally similar) and are not in a meaningful relationship. There is a joke that says that BNSF stands for: Better Not Start a Family. It is hard to have a social life when your days off are in the middle of the week in a somewhat remote location. I suppose that is why I saw so much divorce, high rate of alcoholism, and a lot of chain smoking in the job. It's how people tend to cope with the stress of the job.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    We are humans and we have necessities such as sleep, time to eat, ability to use the restroom and care four our families. I am sure that you would have a better workforce if you incorporate better work/life balance and attempt to have a better working relationship with the unions. Until you do, you will keep seeing the same high rate of turnover, which is exacerbated with the large number of employees retiring.

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