Boston: Invited to Leave

by kfrego

Most people working construction enjoy seeing a project properly constructed, finished on time, and take pride in what they have accomplished. It has always amazed me how a certain percentage of the people on a project could actually care less about schedules, quality, or even their fellow employees. The tunnel job in Boston had a percentage of workers who were more interested in extending the duration of the job so they would be employed longer. It was amazing what some of these individuals would do to impede progress, usually at the expense of their fellow employees.

It was common for tunnel projects to set production goals for the crews. In Boston we could easily get two complete drill and blast cycles in about six and one half hours. Our crews were put on a two rounds and go home schedule. Whenever we finished our two rounds the whole crew went home with full pay plus travel time to the tunnel face. It was pretty simple. You can make the same money for fewer hours worked or you can work the full shift for the same money. We were two miles from the shaft. The single rail line in the tunnel was the only means of getting materials in and out. There were areas where the trains could pass each other. Manual switches were used at these bypasses to keep the trains on the proper rails. You would be amazed how often a loaded train coming or going would run through an open switch and send the derailed cars helter skelter all over the tunnel. When the blast holes were loaded and shot in the tunnel it wasn’t uncommon to find several holes not detonated because somebody didn’t tie them in properly. When these incidents occurred it caused long delays and extended the job duration.

In general my relationship with the crew in Boston was pretty good. My only problem was not hiding my disdain for people who wouldn’t do their share of the work. The union business agent was waiting for me by my locker in the change house coming off shift. He told me he would get me employment on any union project in the United States if I would tell him where I’d like to go. Made no difference to him as long as it wasn’t in his local. There was a large project starting within driving distance of our home in New Hampshire. I said I’d love to go to the new project. The next day he was leaning on my locker holding my work dispatch for the new job on the following Monday.

The business agent was glad to see me go……………….but not as glad as I was to get out of there.