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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic: Amtrak-related Discussion

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crescent-zephyr

Conductor
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Oct 21, 2015
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Disney basically uses slave labor and the truck system, not sure that's a model to covet.
Well first of all. Not true. A good friend of mine was a custodian at Disney world when he was in college. He enjoyed it, obviously complained about the typical big corporate stuff, but he thought it was a great college job.

Second of all. What’s your solution for Amtrak? My point was that Disney has crazy large crowds and low paid employees and manages to keep restrooms clean. Amtrak has low crowds and highly paid employees. Seems there should be a solution besides the employees scolding the customers and threatening to lock the restrooms.
 

Green Maned Lion

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Well first of all. Not true. A good friend of mine was a custodian at Disney world when he was in college. He enjoyed it, obviously complained about the typical big corporate stuff, but he thought it was a great college job.
Glad he enjoyed it. My wife and I have known dozens of people who worked for Disney during their college tenures. Their stories indicate that your friend was the exception, not the rule.

Second of all. What’s your solution for Amtrak? My point was that Disney has crazy large crowds and low paid employees and manages to keep restrooms clean. Amtrak has low crowds and highly paid employees. Seems there should be a solution besides the employees scolding the customers and threatening to lock the restrooms.
You want a solution now? Oy gevaldt, all I am doin' is kvetcshn about problems, and a solution you now want? De noive.

Seriously, though...

First of all, the pay grades of the employees are something of a moot point; Disney, like most theme parks, hires a variety of people to specifically do a variety of jobs, one of which is simply to clean restrooms. When I worked for a contractor at Six Flags, I knew one of the guys who cleaned rest rooms- his job was not only specific to cleaning restrooms, but, in fact, a specific pair of mens restrooms he alternated between- that's all he did. Trust me when I say that compared to Six Flags- Great Adventure, Disney is like a charitable organization; I'm sure they had similar practices in place. In any case, the guy whose sole responsibility being to clean those two rest rooms, his performance in that area being inadequate would result in immediate termination.

Amtrak, on the other hand, has TA-S and TA-Cs who deal with one or several cars, and have a variety of responsibilities, first and foremost being passenger safety. I don't have to list the variety of other responsibilities they have, but the main point being that cleaning the rest rooms is not the biggest one. They should, don't get me wrong. But my guy at Six Flags? The rest rooms not clean, he is simply not doing his job. On Amtrak? "I was assisting a passenger, getting a disabled passenger food from the dining car, cleaning a roomette, doing up somebodies room for the night, dealing with some kind of safety problem, ad infinitum, and I didn't have time to clean the restrooms." Prove them wrong.

I'm not justifying the behavior, I'm explaining the substantially greater difficulty in dealing with it, and that's assuming you have motivated managers. With all due respect to the motivated managers at Amtrak, and those three people know who they are, you don't really have that. You just have government hacks. Attacking that problem first is the beginning of a solution, and that problem is effectively insurmountable.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
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Oct 21, 2015
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I was hoping the Disney mention would lead to someone suggesting the Amtrak restroom cleaners dress up in Mickey Mouse outfits? If it works at Disney, maybe worth a try? ;)
Actually... Disney custodial wear all white uniforms to represent the cleanliness of the parks.
 

MARC Rider

Conductor
Joined
Apr 5, 2011
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Baltimore. MD
Glad he enjoyed it. My wife and I have known dozens of people who worked for Disney during their college tenures. Their stories indicate that your friend was the exception, not the rule.



You want a solution now? Oy gevaldt, all I am doin' is kvetcshn about problems, and a solution you now want? De noive.

Seriously, though...

First of all, the pay grades of the employees are something of a moot point; Disney, like most theme parks, hires a variety of people to specifically do a variety of jobs, one of which is simply to clean restrooms. When I worked for a contractor at Six Flags, I knew one of the guys who cleaned rest rooms- his job was not only specific to cleaning restrooms, but, in fact, a specific pair of mens restrooms he alternated between- that's all he did. Trust me when I say that compared to Six Flags- Great Adventure, Disney is like a charitable organization; I'm sure they had similar practices in place. In any case, the guy whose sole responsibility being to clean those two rest rooms, his performance in that area being inadequate would result in immediate termination.

Amtrak, on the other hand, has TA-S and TA-Cs who deal with one or several cars, and have a variety of responsibilities, first and foremost being passenger safety. I don't have to list the variety of other responsibilities they have, but the main point being that cleaning the rest rooms is not the biggest one. They should, don't get me wrong. But my guy at Six Flags? The rest rooms not clean, he is simply not doing his job. On Amtrak? "I was assisting a passenger, getting a disabled passenger food from the dining car, cleaning a roomette, doing up somebodies room for the night, dealing with some kind of safety problem, ad infinitum, and I didn't have time to clean the restrooms." Prove them wrong.

I'm not justifying the behavior, I'm explaining the substantially greater difficulty in dealing with it, and that's assuming you have motivated managers. With all due respect to the motivated managers at Amtrak, and those three people know who they are, you don't really have that. You just have government hacks. Attacking that problem first is the beginning of a solution, and that problem is effectively insurmountable.
I would be curious to know what the staffing levels are like for coach attendants and sleeping car attendants. I've heard in other threads here that Amtrak has reduced the number of attendants per train. This had presumably resulted in each attendant having more bathrooms to clean. The increased number might be manageable under best-case conditions, but all they would need would be some moderately unusual circumstances that might make cleaning the restrooms frequently a lower priority for the attendants. I've been in situations where the train has made unscheduled stops to discharge passengers (medical emergency, police "emergency", etc.) or a lot of passengers that need special assistance, etc.

In my experience, dirty restrooms on Amtrak, even in coach, is a spotty occurrence. Usually, they're pretty clean. But if they've been cutting back on car attendants, that might explain why the restrooms aren't as clean as they used to be.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
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Oct 21, 2015
Messages
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Glad he enjoyed it. My wife and I have known dozens of people who worked for Disney during their college tenures. Their stories indicate that your friend was the exception, not the rule.
No he’s not an exception. I’ve worked for Disney Parks in both California and Florida (through a 3rd party, not direct) and I know lots of people who enjoy their jobs both previous and current with the company.

I singled him out because he worked custodial.

I’m sure you have friends that didn’t like working for Disney, it’s not for everyone.
 
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Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
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Mar 13, 2019
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When I took French in high school, I learned that some European places have bathroom attendants who stay in the bathroom and are constantly cleaning it. I encountered one of these at an opera house in a German city, possibly Frankfurt. She did not appear happy to be there, but the bathroom was clean. When and if things get back to normal on Amtrak, maybe they could have a bathroom attendant who circulates from bathroom to bathroom in all the cars to keep them clean, like the fellow at Disney. Sounds like a dream job to me!
 

tricia

Conductor
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Aug 23, 2011
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Spring Creek, NC
When I took French in high school, I learned that some European places have bathroom attendants who stay in the bathroom and are constantly cleaning it. I encountered one of these at an opera house in a German city, possibly Frankfurt. She did not appear happy to be there, but the bathroom was clean. When and if things get back to normal on Amtrak, maybe they could have a bathroom attendant who circulates from bathroom to bathroom in all the cars to keep them clean, like the fellow at Disney. Sounds like a dream job to me!
Doing nothing but cleaning bathrooms all day every day sounds like hell to me. As PART of a job with other duties, not so bad.

The problem with Amtrak's bathrooms isn't that there's no employee assigned to nothing but cleaning them. It's that some staff seem to think cleaning bathrooms is beneath them, although they're being paid pretty well for a job in which cleaning bathrooms is only part of their duties.
 
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Green Maned Lion

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What is the "truck system"?
Wikipedia will explain it just as easily as I could.

When I took French in high school, I learned that some European places have bathroom attendants who stay in the bathroom and are constantly cleaning it. I encountered one of these at an opera house in a German city, possibly Frankfurt. She did not appear happy to be there, but the bathroom was clean. When and if things get back to normal on Amtrak, maybe they could have a bathroom attendant who circulates from bathroom to bathroom in all the cars to keep them clean, like the fellow at Disney. Sounds like a dream job to me!
They exist in the United States as well, in high end establishments, as well as, for various reasons, Flea Markets. The job pays little; actually at one flea market I know, Englishtown, they actually charge them for the gig, and they provide towels, soap, cleaning supplies, and so on themselves. The actual pay is in tips.

I used to be a vendor in flea markets some years ago; I knew a guy who did restroom work at several of them. He was like the rest of us; he worked on a circuit, mostly the same circuit I did. For much of my outdoor days, he made more money than I did. When I moved inside Columbus and got rid of the 13-ton box truck, the spot I paid for in Englishtown for supplier transfer, the fuel, the tolls, the insurance on various things, the meals on the road, the motel rooms, and so on, I fixed that problem. But still.
 

Barb Stout

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
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Doing nothing but cleaning bathrooms all day every day sounds like hell to me. As PART of a job with other duties, not so bad.

The problem with Amtrak's bathrooms isn't that there's no employee assigned to nothing but cleaning them. It's that some staff seem to think cleaning bathrooms is beneath them, although they're being paid pretty well for a job in which cleaning bathrooms is part of their duties.
Of course I was being sarcastic about it being a dream job and indeed it sounds like hell to me too, but was also wondering if there could be assignments like Monday you're going to be a regular car attendant, Tuesday, you're going to be the one that circulates around to all the bathrooms, Wednesday, you're going to be a regular car attendant again, etc. I don't know if bathroom conditions are that bad to do this.
 

Qapla

Conductor
Joined
Jul 15, 2019
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Gator Country Florida
To get better service for the restrooms on the train would most likely involve additional collective bargaining - you can't just ask/expect someone to do something that may not be in their job description
 

Green Maned Lion

Conductor
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Would you do the world a favor and stop attempting to justify institutional laziness? Working or dealing with this mess isn’t in anyone’s job description. Yet we all pitch in and do what we must.
 

Qapla

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I'm not attempting to justify institutional laziness - just pointing out that non-union businesses are not having any problems getting their employees to step-up and take on the additional tasks.
 

Devil's Advocate

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I'm not attempting to justify institutional laziness - just pointing out that non-union businesses are not having any problems getting their employees to step-up and take on the additional tasks.
How do you explain unionized flight attendants keeping coach lavatories reasonably clean while non-unionized restaurants generally have disgusting toilets that make you want to turn and leave when you realize what the cooks are using before preparing your food?

To get better service for the restrooms on the train would most likely involve additional collective bargaining - you can't just ask/expect someone to do something that may not be in their job description
Does anything you say come from actual experience or is it all based on vague assumptions? This discussion is starting to remind me of the time you told us how the ventilation works in a sleeping compartment despite having also told us you've never ridden in any.
 
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