On Edge

I am currently working in MVWJ as a transportation dispatcher, which is basically getting our cabs to pick up train crews to go from point A to point B. The job itself wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t for the company and the people who run it. It’s owned by a local guy who owns a good portion of business here in town. None of us ever know what we’re going to walk into on a daily basis. Our head supervisor is a former Marine, who if you dare get sick, you’re scheduled on your next day off, usually without warning. We are required to do what they call “highlight” early or late, which means we either have to come in four hours early or stay four hours late. I am on first shift, which means if I highlight early, it means getting up at 2am to see if I am needed at 3am (I live across the street so I don’t need to call any earlier) and there’s no guarantee that you have to go in early.

You rarely know if you will have to stay late until you’re already making other plans, after they’ve told you all day you weren’t needed. Nothing’s worse than when they decide to tell you as your putting your headset up and walking out the door. They’ve been known to chase people down in the parking lot to get them back in to stay! If you have a day that you can’t stay or come in, you’re written up, and they don’t care why. Most of us are parents and some of us have had massive health problems, but even when you’re contagious, you’re expected to be there. The supervisors are also some of the most ridiculous people that I have ever met in my life! One supervisor in particular will virtually scream at you from across the room for something you supposedly did wrong. He has been sent home for his behavior, but won’t ever get fired. I’ve been sexually harassed, insulted, screamed at, threatened, you name it.

One of the worst things is the intimidation tactics they use. They will scream at people on the floor, threatening to suspend them for insubordination for things that are just crazy. We work with the big train companies — CSX, Norfolk Southern, Sooline, Amtrak and Union Pacific. UP has their own system that we have to close out and sometimes, if we are unusually busy, we get behind doing this. That’s when the supervisors come out to yell at us for not getting them out fast enough and threatening suspension. I’ve never worked in a place where people are so afraid to come into work. The only reason why we stay is that the money is halfway decent but that’s about it. I guess it’s a bad sign when there are only three or four people out of about 200 to 300 who have been there longer than three or four years. One has been there about 10, but she’s the exception. All I can do is keep looking for something better.

Comments (19)

AshlynMay 23rd, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Things may not be properly handled by your employer, but you COULD report some of this to the Dept of Labor, you know. There ARE options. I’m not saying you will keep your job, but you could only be so lucky.

wiccabasketMay 23rd, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I’ve never been so glad to work in the UK.


RitaMay 23rd, 2011 at 4:10 pm

o.0 that sounds nuts.

BillyMay 23rd, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Very odd story.

You have to call up every day 4 hours early in case you’re the “early highlight” person? That doesn’t even make sense, they won’t even call you to let you know that you’re the person expected to come in early?

Also, what health conditions have rotating contagious periods? Usually you’re contagious for a while or not, but it doesn’t come and go at random periods. And even if there was an illness that did, what employer would give a week off every month or two because you were contagious again?

I mean, the job does sound crappy, but maybe they are just scare tactics. Why not ask the person who has been there for 10 years how she did it? As a final note, there’s not enough money in the world that will make me stay with a job that I’m getting sexually harassed, screamed at, and threatened. Call me crazy!

SuzanneMay 23rd, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Hi all! OP here. As for the highlight thing, we’ve ALL asked why they can’t call us if they need us but we’re never given a reason. If 1st shift is highlighted early, we can call as early as 11 but as late as 2 am to see if you need to go in at 3 am. It also means most of us have to go to bed by 6 pm.

@Billy — the bad thing about being in a call center type environment is that things get spread so easily since we don’t have dedicated desks that we are consistently working on any given day. We all rotate so much and with up to 75 people working per day, things get spread, left behind, etc. We try to use Lysol wipes but people still spread germs and come in vomiting, sneezing, coughing, running high fevers, you name it. Yes, I am crazy for staying but I have to survive and until something else comes along, I have to stay. The overtime is awesome when we actually have it, as in $13 an hour for those 4 hours, but it’s not always a guarantee. As for the only person who’s been there 10 years, they’re trying to get rid of her because she’s being paid so much now.

Also on a side note, when I had surgery in February which is deemed a hysterectomy “light”, the head of the department said, “Well maybe if you tell the doctor you have a “sit down job”, he’ll release you early”. Did he miss the memo on WHERE my surgical scars would be?!?

ConcernedMay 24th, 2011 at 4:57 am

You should send this in to several networks’ news shows to do an undercover investigative report. Surely, what your employer is doing is illegal, esp. with the additional four hour work requirement, not to mention the abuse.

SallyWordSlingerMay 24th, 2011 at 6:49 am

I’d flippin’ unionize the place. Call up the Teamsters and ask them to meet with you. Or try Service Workers International Union (SEIU). I have worked with them. They are aggressive. Once you let them know there is potential to organize, they pretty much handle the heavy lifting.

Organizing a union is the best revenge. Start some sh*t, baby!!

KateMay 24th, 2011 at 7:40 am

Billy, you are a boil on the ass of MVWJ.

OP, sorry your job sucks. Hope you find something soon!

RavenMay 24th, 2011 at 11:48 am

Definitely illegal stuff going on here. That garbage should all be documented and then dealt with through the official channels.

As for the yelling, the bullying – that sucks. I’ve been in that kind of environment, where a “good day” means a day without being screamed at, humiliated, or terrified. Hostile work environments can ruin an otherwise decent job so easily.

BillyMay 24th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

@Kate – Thank you for referring to me as the only thing that stands out on this website which contains a lot of crap. I appreciate the compliment, but disagree with your assessment of the website.

SuzanneMay 25th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Oh, I should also mention that we don’t get lunch hours. We get 3 10 minute breaks (4 if you’re doing a 12 hour shift) in which we usually have to eat either massively fast or break it down as best you can. It’s legal in the state of Indiana to not have to give a lunch hour (it’s deemed the employer being “nice”) but it’s still really crappy!

EdhlaMay 26th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Good grief. I can’t believe that this stuff is legal in a prosperous first world country. Most of it is hella illegal here (Australia.) But then, we have the protection of unions which from what I hear is a divisive issue in the States. Surely, though, there are laws to protect people from this lunacy?

ChristineJune 5th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Op-I wish I could ask which company it was because I work in the same field! Is it rail moves or OTR moves? I’m guessing rail bc you mentioned the big ones.

HR GuyJune 6th, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I’m fairly certain the “highlight” procedure, as you describe it, is against the law. Anytime an employer controls your time, you must be compensated for it. A requirement to check in every single day before your shift is time that should be compensated. Several companies have tried various different spins on procedures like these and have ended up paying dearly for it. Of course, when you find yourself in this situation, you have to ask yourself if a report to the Dept. of Labor is worth it (your job, that is). Maybe you could get an attorney to represent you for free – his/her fees would come out of the settlement.

maryJune 7th, 2011 at 9:51 pm

oh honey, as soon as i read that overtime is $13, i nearly cried. it’d take some doing, but you could easily make that as a receptionist only working 40 a week.

best of luck!

SuzanneJune 18th, 2011 at 6:45 pm

@Christine: It’s a local company here in Indiana but there are other companies like Cimarron that do the same thing. We have over 200 branches and if it weren’t for this crap, it’d be a decent job.

@HRGuy and @mary: Well, we ARE compensated for overtime but now they’ve cut OT back, as in almost non-existent and the irony of it is, none of us are surviving on our regular rate alone. I keep trying to find something else but nothing has come up so far. It’s currently 8:45 pm and I have to wake up at 2 am to see if I’m needed at 3. It sucks, it really does.

RepublicOctober 10th, 2011 at 11:43 am

Wow! I hope you’ve found something better OP. Nobody should have to endure that kind of working environment.

you’re story touched me enough to comment on this site. I usually don’t like nor comment on mvwj.

SuzanneNovember 30th, 2011 at 12:54 am

@Republic Thank you for that. No, I’m still there but the head supervisor moved on to another position within the company and was replaced by someone I’ve worked with before in three different companies. He’s a nice guy and actually DOES understand shit happens. The supervisor below him no longer has her office in dispatch so that helps too. The threats have eased up a bit so it’s not quite as miserable as it once was.

LisaJanuary 16th, 2012 at 3:09 am

Honestly, the United States sucks. Poor people don’t have healthcare, and most people in crappy jobs don’t even have to be given breaks to eat, no matter how long they work.

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